Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Teenage Girls and STDs

The CDC estimates that one in four (26 percent) teenage girls, ages 14 to 19, in the United States has a sexully transmitted disease. This translates to 3.2 million female adolescents with at least one of the most common STDs.

The first-of-its-kind federal study led by CDC's Dr. Sara Forhan, examined the combined national prevalence of four common STDs among female adolescents. The overall rate of STDs are Human Papillomavirus(18 percent), Chlamydia(4 percent), Trichomoniasis(2.5 percent), and Genital Herpes(2 percent).

The disease rate were significantly higher among African-American girls. Nearly half of the African-American girls(48 percent) had at least one STD, compared to 20 percent among both Whites and Hispanic girls. The findings started some adolescent-health experts.

“Today’s data demonstrate the significant health risk STDs pose to millions of young women in this country every year,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “Given that the health effects of STDs for women – from infertility to cervical cancer – are particularly severe, STD screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities.”

“High STD infection rates among young women, particularly young African-American women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “STD screening and early treatment can prevent some of the most devastating effects of untreated STDs."

The findings emphasize the need for a comprehensive sex education program, we just can't teach abstinence. Everyone must get involved in educating young people, both girls and boys, about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. If an estimated 3.2 million girls have at least one STD, then the rate should be high amongst young men.

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