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Adolescent Development and STDs

Adolescents ages 15-24 account for nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year.1 Today, two in five sexually active teen girls have had an STD that can cause infertility and even death.2 Also, though rates of HIV are very low among adolescents, males make up more than 80 percent of HIV diagnoses among 13- to 19-year-olds.3 STDs often have no obvious sign or physical symptom, so regular screenings are critical.4 The most effective way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity; if teens are having sex, they should be using a condom correctly and with every sexual act.5

Check out these resources for adolescent STD services

  • Federally funded Title X family planning clinics offer low-cost STD testing and contraceptive services for all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families. Adolescents and others can find a Title X funded clinic by zip code.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a locator service that helps visitors search for testing centers where they can receive STD and HIV testing services, as well as vaccines for Hepatitis B and HPV.

Learn more about STDs and adolescents

  • Visit OAH’s full library of federal adolescent health resources on reproductive health and STDs.
  • Partners who get tested together can be confident about one another’s status, get treatment (if needed), and plan how to stay healthy. Healthfinder.gov has tips for how to start the conversation with your partner about STDs.
  • GYT.org, a site sponsored by the CDC and MTV, encourages teens to learn about and protect themselves from STDs, including HIV.
  • The CDC has a set of fact sheets on each STD, available in both English and Spanish, which define the condition and give detail on signs, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
  • The HPV vaccine is licensed, safe, and effective for females and males ages 9 through 26, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all adolescents (males and females) begin receiving the vaccine at age 11 or 12. Find out more information about when adolescents should receive the HPV vaccine, as well as vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B. Also, the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program provides vaccines at no cost to over 40 million children under 19 each year.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. Atlanta, GA: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/2017-STD-Surveillance-Report_CDC-clearance-9.10.18.pdf.
2 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.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). HIV surveillance: Adolescents and young adults. Atlanta, GA: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library/slidesets/cdc-hiv-surveillance-adolescents-young-adults-2016.pdf
4 Workowski, K. A., & Bolan, G. A. (2015). Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 64(3). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/tg-2015-print.pdf.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Condoms and STDs: Fact sheet for public health personnel. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/docs/condoms_and_stds.pdf.
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on March 28, 2019