CDC study says at least 1 in 4 teen girls has a sexually transmitted disease; HPV most common

By Lindsey Tanner Published: March 11, 2008
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Sa
ra Forhan is an analysis of nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey.

The results were prepared for release Tuesday at a CDC conference in Chicago on preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Four common diseases were examined — human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.

Blythe said the results are similar to previous studies examining rates of those diseases individually.

HPV can cause genital warts but often has no symptoms. A vaccine targeting several HPV strains recently became available. Douglas said it likely has not yet had much impact on HPV prevalence rates in teen girls.

Chlamydia and trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active women under age 25. It also recommends the three-dose HPV vaccine for girls aged 11-12 years, and catch-up shots for females aged 13 to 26.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has similar recommendations.

Douglas said screening tests are underused in part because many teens don't think they're at risk, but also, some doctors mistakenly think, "'Sexually transmitted diseases don't happen to the kinds of patients I see.'"

Blythe said some doctors also are reluctant to discuss STDs with teen patients or offer screening because of confidentiality concerns, knowing parents would have to be told of the results.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports confidential teen screening, she said.

On the Net:

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov

American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org



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