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How do I deal with a teenager with an STD?

teen-hiding-faceFirst things first: Treat the STD. With few exceptions, all teens in the United States can legally consent to confidential diagnosis and treatment of STDs. Be professional. No teen wants to hear a sermon, and lecturing about responsible sexual behavior rarely does any good, so keep your judgments to yourself. Your job is to provide accurate information, compassionate care and appropriate treatment.

Since some STDs need to be reported, check your state and local health regulations; report the STD if necessary, assuring the teen that all reports are kept in strict confidence.

Use this opportunity to educate the teen about safer sex. Talk about abstinence, condoms and myths. Be sure the teen knows, for instance, that oral sex is not a risk-free substitute for vaginal sex. Discuss the importance of regular healthcare, including genital exams and STD testing, and let her know which clinics provide these services.

Connect the teen to additional resources as well. There’s a ton of information available on the Web (try iwannaknow.org). The National STD Hotline (1-800-227-8922) provides one-on-one counseling. Innovative programs like The BirdsNBees Text Line and Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS) in California allow teens to text sexual questions to dedicated numbers and receive almost instant answers.

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One Response to How do I deal with a teenager with an STD?

  1. I think I can generalize that most teenagers do not talk openly to their parents about sexual practices. As a nurse, you can be a much-needed ear and an educational voice for these teenagers. Do not preach, but educate on the risks associated and most importantly, like discussed above, provide them with community resources that they can utilize. Be sure to protect their privacy, especially in the pediatric setting. When dealing with questions of sexual practices, ask the parents to leave the room so you get adequate and hopefully honest answers from the teenager. We were all teens once, be sure to remember that.

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