Adolescents (ages 15 to 19 years) and young adults
(ages 20 to 24 years) are at much higher risk of contracting
sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than are older adults.
Within each of these age groups, reported rates of chlamydia,
gonorrhea, and syphilis infection are significantly higher
among non-Hispanic Black youth than youth of all other reported
racial and ethnic categories.
Chlamydia continues to be the most common
STI in adolescents and young adults, with rates of 1,579
and 1,660 cases per 100,000, respectively, in 2004. Gonorrhea
followed in prevalence with overall rates of 427 and 498
per 100,000 adolescents and young adults, respectively.
Syphilis is far less common among young people and the population
as a whole, with a rate of 1.7 per 100,000 adolescents and
a rate of 5.0 per 100,000 young adults.
Another STI, genital human papillomavirus
(HPV), is the most common STI in the United States. It is
estimated that as many as half of those who are infected
with HPV are adolescents and young adults. 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 HPV was recently approved by the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in females aged 9
to 26 years.1