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Teen Sexually Transmitted Disease - Alarming

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 6:00 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Cervical Cancer, HPV, STD, FDA and Prescription Drugs

Teenage Sex Transmitted Disease Alarming

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Researchers wanted to find out just how prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD) is in teenage girls

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collected data on 838 girls ages 14 through 19 and asked them about their sex life.  About 40 percent admitted ever having sex.

These numbers were collected in 2003 through 2004 and the girls were tested for four sexually transmitted infections.

"What we found is alarming," the CDC's Dr. Sara Forhan, who led the study, told Reuters. 

The results show about one in four teenage girl has a sexually transmitted disease. 

This study was presented today at a STD prevention conference in Chicago.  The racial lines were also startling.  About half of the African-American girls had at least one STD.  Among Caucasian and Hispanic girls that number drops to about 20 percent.

The rates of infection are being estimated to apply to the entire 3.2 million American teenage girl population. 

The most common sexually transmitted infection is human papillomavirus (HPV) which the Merck vaccine Gardasil claims to help guard against.  Chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes simplex virus round out the viruses girls are getting in this first study attempting to get an accurate picture on STD prevalence among adolescent women.

HPV affected 18 percent of the teens in the study. HPV can lead to cervical cancers. Chlamydia was found in four percent of the teens. Trichomoniasis was found in 2.5 percent and herpes simplex virus affected two percent.

Dr. Forham said "This means that far too many young women are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated STDs, including infertility and cervical cancer."

While Trichomoniasis and Chlamydia are curable with antibiotics, HPV and herpes are incurable.

A decade ago researchers with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called STDs a “silent epidemic” in the United States. To not address that problem would “be a tragedy of enormous consequences” researchers warned.

STDs put a woman at risk for cervical cancer, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain and cesarean delivery.

The rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia rose in 2006 according to the CDC since these numbers were collected two years earlier.

Chlamydia rose to the highest level yet, one million cases in 2006.  

The study did not look at syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV, so researchers say the rate of STD infection might actually be higher.  

The web site Mom Logic reports that one in five teens has witnessed kids having sex in school.

The CDC recommends abstinence for teenagers as the best way to avoid STD. If you are sexually active, an annual screening for chlamydia is advised if you are under the age of 25 and sexually active. The HPV vaccine is advised for 11 and 12 year olds as well as a booster shot since no one knows how long they are effective. Also condoms can stop the transfer of infection.

But abstinence only programs have been shown to be ineffective and 17 states have refused federal funds for those programs.  #


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