Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  • About 9.5 million adolescents and young adults (ages 15–24) are diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year.[1] 
  • An estimated four in 10 sexually active adolescent females between the ages of 14 and 19 have an STD.[2]
  • In 2008, males accounted for an estimated 71 percent of all HIV diagnoses among adolescents aged 13–19.[3]
  • STDs are spread through sexual contact, including vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex.
  • Adolescents who have multiple sexual partners, have unprotected sex, or take part in other high-risk sexual behaviors are at greater risk of getting an STD.
  • Information from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that among adolescent females who ever had sexual intercourse, the most common STD is human papillomavirus (HPV), followed by chlamydia, trichomoniasis, the virus most commonly associated with genital herpes, and gonorrhea.[4]
  • There are many strains of HPV. Some strains are linked to genital warts and other strains are linked to cervical, anal, and other genital cancers.
  • Vaccines are available to help protect against getting some strains of HPV and viral hepatitis.
  • Many STDs have no signs or symptoms. The only way teens can find out for sure if they have an STD is to get tested by a medical professional. Separate tests are needed to detect most types of STDs.
  • Some STDs can be easily cured with antibiotics when caught early; others have no known cure but are treatable.
  • Left untreated, some STDs can lead to infertility, pregnancy complications, organ damage, and even death.

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[1] Forhan, S. E., Gottlieb, S. L., Sternberg, M. R., Xu, F., Datta, S. D., McQuillan, G. M., et al. (2009). Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among female adolescents aged 14 to 19 in the United States. Pediatrics, 124(6), 1505-1512.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Slideshow: HIV surveillance in adolescents and young adults.

[4] Forhan, S. E., Gottlieb, S. L., Sternberg, M. R., Xu, F., Datta, S. D., McQuillan, G. M., et al. (2009). Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among female adolescents aged 14 to 19 in the United States. Pediatrics, 124(6), 1505-1512.

 

Last updated: December 12, 2014