U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

Function Navigation

Sexually Transmitted Infections

In general, adolescents (aged 15–19 years) and young adults (aged 20–24 years) are at much higher risk than older adults of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital human papillomavirus (HPV).

Chlamydia continues to be the most common reportable STI among adolescents and young adults. Based on the number of cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 1,956 chlamydial infections per 100,000 adolescents and 2,084 infections per 100,000 young adults in 2008. Rates were highest among non-Hispanic Blacks, followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives. Rates of gonorrhea were 453 and 518 per 100,000 adolescents and young adults, respectively, and were also highest among non- Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

HPV is the most common STI in the United States. Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, cases of HPV are not required to be reported to the CDC. However, a recent study indicated that approximately one-quarter of females aged 14–19 years and nearly 45 percent of those aged 20–24 years are infected with HPV.1 There are many types of HPV, some of which can cause cancer. Although cervical cancer in women is the most serious health problem caused by HPV, routine Pap tests and follow-up care have greatly reduced the incidence of and mortality rate from cervical cancer. A vaccine for certain types of HPV was first approved in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in females aged 9–26 years.2 In 2008, 37.2 percent of females aged 13–17 years had received at least one dose of the three-dose series.3

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, accessed 12/09.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National, state, and local area vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13–17 years—United States, 2008. MMWR 2009;58:997-8.

Back to Top