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One in 4 Teen Girls Has a Sexually Transmitted Disease
Date:3/11/2008

n 838 girls aged 14 to 19 who took part in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study did not include syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV, as earlier studies found very low prevalence of these diseases in this age group.

HPV and chlamydia are the most common STDs found among teenage girls, Forhan said. "Almost one in five overall had a strain of HPV associated with cervical cancer or genital warts," she said.

"We need to be screening adolescent girls who are sexually active and providing them with HPV vaccine," Alderman said. "The recommendations are to screen sexually active girls, but many girls don't disclose to their health-care provider that they are sexually active, even when asked," she said.

As for chlamydia, 4 percent of teenaged girls had this STD, Forhan said. "The majority of chlamydia infections do not have symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which leaves these young women at risk for atopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain or infertility," she said.

In addition, the study found that 2.9 percent of young women had trichomoniasis, and 2 percent were infected with genital herpes, Forhan said.

According to Forhan, about 50 percent of the teens reported having sex, and the prevalence of STDs in this group was 40 percent. "Even for young women with only one reported lifetime sexual partner, one in five had an STD," she noted.

"If you choose to be sexually active, you need to protect yourself and be screened for these infections," Alderman said. "And all girls between the ages of 11 and 26 should get vaccinated for HPV."

Among women with an STD, 15 percent had more than one infection, Forhan added.

"These data provide a clearest picture to date of the overall burden of STDs in adolescent women in the United States," Forhan said. "The study also underscores the importance of addressing racial disparities in STD rates among yo
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