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‘Love May Not Last, but STDs Can Be Forever’
The Healthy Respect Medical Symposium Presents the Facts that Matter for Young People's Lives

Seated from left to right Rev. William Norman, Tarik Curry, Dr. Marilou Corpuz, Dr. Fred Hernandez, Dr. Kevin Reilly at Healthy Respect’s first Medical Symposium on Sexual Health made possible by grants from the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation

Dr. Kevin D. Reilly, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr. Marilou Corpuz, Chief of Infectious Diseases, from Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx provided the hard facts and sad statistics behind the ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases among young people, and detailed the physical and social problems connected with teen pregnancy, at the first Healthy Respect Medical Symposium on Sexual Health. The program, which stressed abstinence as the only sure way of avoiding STDs and pregnancy, served as a bracing reality check about the dangers of premarital sex, providing a wealth of information, as well as an agenda for action for anyone who deals with teens or young adults.

Dr. Reilly and Dr. Corpuz presented medical facts and lessons from their clinical experiences regarding teen sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.

Displaying graphic medical illustrations of the damage sexually transmitted diseases can wreak on the body, Dr. Corpuz spoke about “Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) in Adolescents and Young Adults.” The chance of transmission of some diseases such as gonorrhea and HIV can be reduced – though not eliminated -- by use of the male latex condom, but other diseases such as human papilloma virus (HPV) and herpes can infect areas of the body that a condom cannot cover, Dr. Corpuz reported. The only sure way to avoid STDs of all types is abstinence from sex outside marriage and a mutually monogamous relationship within marriage, she pointed out.

Dr. Corpuz reported that although some bacterial STDs can be treated and cured, many of the viral variety remain in the body for life. In all cases, the physical damage done by STDs cannot be reversed. “Love may not be permanent, but herpes and HIV are forever,” she concluded.

Speaking on “Teen Pregnancy: The Reality,” Dr. Reilly told of the difficulties many doctors have in helping young people maintain health and a hopeful future. As a gynecologist, too often he sees teens only after they become pregnant or have contracted a life-changing sexually transmitted disease. He also knows that he may see a young patient only once before she moves on to another doctor.

He strongly endorsed programs such as Healthy Respect, which reach young people with accurate information, and give them the skills and character formation to make healthy decisions.

Held May 6 at the Roosevelt Ballroom of the Philipsburgh Performing Arts Center in downtown Yonkers, the Healthy Respect Medical Symposium on Sexual Health brought together educators, public officials, community and religious leaders, parents and others who are concerned about the health, welfare and future of New York’s young people. Conducted by Healthy Respect, which for the past three years has been reaching students with its classroom-based abstinence education classes throughout the New York area, the event was supported by The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Healthy Respect trains its own classroom instructors, who teach in male-female teams, and presents abstinence in the context of healthy lifestyle decisions, character formation, career and future goals and self-esteem. The program also conducts parent workshops and partners with community leaders and educators to provide support for the abstinence message.

“The medical symposium is a natural development stemming from the 20 sessions of classroom instruction we provide for students, and the parent workshops we hold for those who serve as guardians for young people,” said John P. Margand Esq., Executive Director of Healthy Respect. “It is our goal to bring together entire communities and involve all interested individuals for the purpose of education and action for the sake of our young people, who are the future of our communities.”

Mr. Margand and Dr. Nanci Coppola, Healthy Respect’s Director of Curriculum, led a panel discussion during the symposium. Also on the panel were Dr. Fred Hernandez, Principal of Commerce Middle School in Yonkers, who has welcomed the Healthy Respect program for the past three years in his school, and the Rev. William Norman, Pastor of Christ Church, who stressed the need for moral values and parental involvement in the lives of young people.

“Healthy Respect is dedicated to the principle that abstinence is more than just saying ‘No’ to sex,” said Margand. “It is also saying ‘Yes” to academic goals, personal growth and achievement, and a brighter and healthier future for young people.”