Students learn facts about sexual diseases

by Symptom Advice on May 18, 2012

Junior and seniors in the Ector County Independent School District learned the raw facts and information on Thursday about sexually transmitted diseases and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services, in coordination with the Ector County Health Department, informed students about STD/HIV during an hour-long presentation at both Permian and Odessa high schools. Students learned through the slideshow and discussion about the symptoms associated with some of the diseases, how they could get an STD and what to do if they ever become infected. There was also a panel of three doctors to provide students with medically accurate answers to any questions they might have had at the end.

Gino Solla, director of the Ector County Health Department, said the information the students received in the presentation is what they need to know, but an issue that has not been fully addressed in the past.

“It’s one of the health disparities that’s not being addressed,” Solla said. “It’s time to put the information forward.”

Solla said it’s the first time the health department has given a presentation to the students. In 2008, Solla said he served on the district’s School Health Advisory Committee and at that time, the district was teaching students an abstinence-only program. Solla said once the district moved toward abstinence plus, he thought it was a good time to offer a presentation through the department.

“I thought it was a good time to augment the program,” Solla said. “We’d like to do it on a yearly basis if the district allows it.”

But before the students could get any information at all, they had to turn in forms signed by their parents allowing them to participate.

Solla said the forms were necessary because the presentation included a lot of graphic images. He said at previous SHAC meeting, members had expressed an interest for showing and informing students exactly what happens if they become infected as opposed to diagrams or just telling students.

“this is the full deal,” Solla said.

And students at the Permian High presentation did not hold back on their reactions as the images of infected genitalia appeared in the slideshow. Students laughed and made gagging sounds as presenters displayed the images.

Tate Owen, an 18-year-old senior, said she was speechless after the presentation. she said some of the images were a little too graphic.

“The pictures – it’s to an extreme,” Owen said.

Owen said she didn’t really learn anything in the presentation that she didn’t already know from previous presentations, but thought it was a good excuse to be out of class.

However, Emilio Diaz, an 18-year-old senior, said he thought the information was good and that it taught him about the importance of always using protection. He said he thought the pictures were fine.

“it shows you what’s up and what really happens,” Diaz said.

Victoria Rodriguez, an 18-year-old senior, said she also thought the information was valuable. she said the presentation was useful and that it taught her to not plan on having sex for awhile.

“I hope a lot of people learn from it,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the pictures were “pretty scary,” but it was good to show everyone now before it’s too late.

Oscar Hernandez, program specialist III for the regional Texas Department of State Health Services, said the department has always wanted to give a presentation to students in ECISD. He said the presentation was meant to get the students’ attention and provide medically accurate information about STD/HIV.

“We’re always looking for opportunities like this,” Hernandez said.

The same presentation was given at Odessa High in the afternoon on Thursday to about 600 students, and Hernandez said the program went well.

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