Health Education & Promotion

Disease Prevention for Teens

What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection/Disease?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual contact. These infections often do not cause any symptoms. Medically, infections are only called diseases when they cause symptoms. This is why STDs are also called "sexually transmitted infections." Some examples of STIs are chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. Sexually transmitted infections affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and from all walks of life. More than half of all of us will get one at some time in our lives.

Why is this a focus of Kent County Health Department (KCHD)?

STDs are a major public health problem, and affects young people more than any other age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • About half of all Sexually Transmitted Infections occur among youth ages 15-24 years.
  • 2015 was the second year in a row in which increases were seen in all three nationally reported STDs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis).
  • 4,020 HIV infected Michigan residents are 13 - 24 years of age.

According to the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPhy):

  • Among Kent County high school students taking the MiPhy, only 68% reported that parents or other adults in their family had ever talked with them about what they expected them to do or not to do when it comes to sex.
  • Among Kent County students taking the MiPhy, only 67.5% of students who had sexual intercourse during the past three months used a condom during last sexual intercourse.

Most Reported Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Infections

How is KCHD addressing this issue?

KCHD provides prevention education and risk-education classes in various community settings, including schools and youth-serving agencies around Kent County for groups of 6 to 30 participants. Presentations vary based on the needs of the audience.

Be Proud! Be Responsible!

The Be Proud! Be Responsible! Program (BPBR) a multi-media, 6-module Evidence-Based Intervention that gives teens the information, skills and confidence to reduce their risk of HIV and other STDs/STIs. Be Proud! Be Responsible! was designed for diverse populations of youth, ranging in age from 13 to 18 years. Be Proud! Be Responsible! is comprised of a series of fun and interactive learning experiences designed to increase participation and enhance learning. It empowers young people to change their behaviors and lower their risk by abstaining from sex or by using condoms if they choose to have sex. BPBR is on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health's list of approved evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs (TPP), which identifies programs with evidence of effectiveness in reducing teen preganncy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and associated sexual risk behaviors. Although not specifically pregnancy prevention oriented, many of the communication and condom skills taught will also help participants avoid unintended pregnancy and other STDs.

Goals of BPBR:

  • Help young people make proud and responsible decisions about their sexual behaviors.
  • Change behaviors that put teens at risk for HIV and other STDs.
  • Delay the initiation of sex among sexually inexperienced youth.
  • Reduce unprtected sex among sexually active youth.

For more information, contact:
Tracy Fahner | | (616) 632-7271

Fact Sheets