One in Four Women in Teens Have S.T.D.’s, Study Finds
By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN
Published: March 12, 2008
The first national study of common sexually transmitted diseases among teenage women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported on Tuesday.
Nearly half of African-American teenage women were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (H.P.V.), chlamydia, herpes simplex type 2 and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.
That figure compared with 20 percent of white teenage women.
The two most common sexually transmitted diseases (S.T.D.’s) among all the women tested were H.P.V. at 18 percent and chlamydia at 4 percent according to the analysis, which was part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Among the infected women, 15 percent had more than one.
Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the findings underscore the need for strengthening screening, vaccination and other prevention measures for S.T.D.’s, which are among the country’s highest public health priorities.
“High S.T.D. 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 Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., who directs the centers’ division of S.T.D. prevention.
Federal health officials ask about different health and nutrition issues in the survey, which is conducted each year. The S.T.D. analysis was based on information collected in the 2003-04 survey.
Participants in the statistically based survey are chosen on a random basis. The survey contacted 838 women ages 14 to 19 who agreed to be tested for a sexually transmitted infection. Extrapolating from the findings, researchers estimated that 3.2 million teenage women are infected with at least one of the S.T.D.’s
S.T.D.’s can produce acute symptoms ranging from vaginal discharge to pelvic inflammatory disease and also lead to long-term ailments like infertility and cervical cancer. The survey tested for strains of H.P.V. that are linked to genital warts and cervical cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual screening tests to detect chlamydia for sexually active women under age 25. The federal agency in Atlanta also recommends that women between ages 11 and 26 be fully vaccinated against H.P.V.