heat of the moment, it’s a good bet sexually transmitted
infections are the last thing on a teen’s or young adult’s
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
Atlanta, young people ages 15-24, who make up just more than
one-quarter of the sexually active population, account for
half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections
that occur in the U.S. each year.
this being Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month,
officials are emphasizing efforts to educate teens and their
parents about the public health issue to slow the spread of
diseases among young people.
addition to providing testing, some localities are leveraging
social media to help inform the public about treatments,
prevention strategies and the need to get tested.
is a sobering reality that so many young people are infected
with STDs and even more startling, the number of these young
people who aren’t even aware of it," said Dr. Patrick O’Neal,
director of health protection at the Georgia Department of
Public Health. "Our goal is to reduce incidence of STDs
and the disparity in numbers of young people infected, and
cutting down sexual transmission of STDs."
sexually transmitted infections affect people of all ages,
they take a particularly heavy physical toll on young people,
said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s Division of STD
true especially for young women going through puberty because
biological factors make it easier for organisms to enter their
most women will clear infection with medical treatment, some
are left with debilitating pelvic pain and are at increased
risk of developing ectopic pregnancies.
the eight common sexually transmitted infections, she said,
the human papillomavirus, or HPV, is by far the most common
among teens and young adults.
most HPV infections will clear on their own, some will take
hold and can lead to serious disease, including cervical
gonorrhea, genital herpes and trichomoniasis are also common
among the young age group.
infections cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year,
according to the CDC.
think we’ve known for a long time that young people are at
greater risk for sexually transmitted disease and the
prevalence of infection among them is very high," Bolan
said. "The way we reduce infection is by identifying
people as quickly as possible so that they can get
treated." Bolan said her office is partnering with other
public health agencies to raise awareness not only about the
impact of infections, but the causes and what teens and young
adults can do to protect themselves.
of access to health care, confidentiality concerns, even being
too embarrassed to tell anyone, all feed the spread of
infections, she said.
said sexually active teens and young adults should be checked
periodically for disease. If they suspect they’ve been
infected, they should seek care from their pediatrician or
primary care doctor. If they don’t know where to go, they
can call their local health department.
THE NUMBERS (U.S. FIGURES)
million diagnosed and reported chlamydia cases in 2011
diagnosed and reported gonorrhea cases in 2011
diagnosed and reported syphillis cases in 2011
chlamydia screening for all sexually active women age 25 and
gonorrhea screening for at-risk sexually active women with new
or multiple sex partners and women who live in communities
with a high incidence of disease.
chlamydia and hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women,
and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women at the
first prenatal visit to protect the health of mothers and
at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and
HIV for all sexually active men who have sex with men. Those
who use illicit drugs or whose sex partners participate in
these activities should be screened more frequently.
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