Sexually Transmitted Infections

Overall, adolescents (aged 15–19 years) and young adults (aged 20–24 years) are at much higher risk than older adults of contracting certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital human papillomavirus (HPV). Within each of these age groups, reported rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections were highest among non-Hispanic Black youth.

Chlamydia continues to be the most common STI among adolescents and young adults, with rates of 1,621 and 1,719 cases per 100,000, respectively, in 2005. Rates were highest among non-Hispanic Blacks aged 15–19 and 20–24 (5,503 and 5,360 per 100,000, respectively), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (2,675 and 2,980 per 100,000, respectively). Rates of gonorrhea were 438 and 507 per 100,000 adolescents and young adults, respectively, and were also higher among non-Hispanic Blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

HPV is the most common STI in the United States. A recent study indicated that 24.5 percent of females aged 14–19 and 44.8 percent aged 20–24 had an HPV infection in 2003–2004.1 There are many different types of HPV, and some, which are referred to as “high-risk” can cause cancer. Although cervical cancer in women is the most serious health problem caused by HPV, it is highly preventable with regular Pap tests and follow-up care. A vaccine for certain types of HPV was approved in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in females aged 9–26 years.2

Reported rates of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents and young adults, by age and race/ethnicity, 2005[D]

1 Dunne EF, Unger ER, Sternberg M, McQuillan G, Swan DC, Patel SS, Markowitz LE. Prevalence of HPV infection among females in the United States. JAMA. 2007 Feb;297(8):876-8.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention. HPV and HPV vaccines: information for healthcare providers. June 2006. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv /STDFact-HPV-vaccine-hcp.htm, viewed 5/31/07.

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