Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces
Health Status > Adolescents


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

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention. HPV and HPV vaccines: information for healthcare providers. June 2006. Available from:


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Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.