A recent poll by “Caring for Yourselfis Loving Yourself,” a social program foryouth, found that while approximately70% of Costa Rican adolescents say thehave “active sex lives,” 71% do not knowhow to identify a sexually transmitted disease,and 21% of those having sex havenot used any form of birth control,according to Adriana Márquez, coordinatorof the program.The program surveyed 937 students ofboth sexes in private and public schools inthe Central Valley with the intention ofexploring the level of knowledge studentshad in two key areas: sexually transmitteddiseases (STD’s) and pregnancy prevention,the report stated. It also sought theiropinions on access to sexual educationand the reproductive health of adolescents.In the area of preventing STD’s, 50%of those surveyed said the best way toavoid getting infected was to use a condomand 43% said abstinence, and toavoid pregnancy 43% said the best waywas to use a condom, 33% said abstinenceand 18% said birth control pills.Dr. Gabriela Zúñiga, who conductedthe survey, said there is a lack of informationin Costa Rican schools to protectyouth from unwanted pregnancies andSTDs.“It is necessary to implement sex educationin elementary schools and highschools because teenagers cannot identifySTDs. They tend to self-medicate. Only13% consult doctors,” Zúñiga told EFEwire service.Non-governmental organizations areasking the Catholic Church to cease interferingwith efforts to provide sexual educationin schools, saying unwanted pregnancies,AIDS and other STDs are threateningthe country’s teens (TT, April 15).Of the approximately 70% adolescentswho say they “active sex lives,” 41% hadsex for the first time between the ages of12 and 14, 38% when they were 15 and21% when they were 16, according to therecent poll.