U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Sexually Transmitted Infections

In general, adolescents (aged 15-19 years) and young adults (aged 20-24 years) are at much higher risk than older adults of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital human papillomavirus (HPV).

Chlamydia continues to be the most common STI among adolescents and young adults, with rates of 1,674 and 1,796 cases per 100,000, respectively, in 2006. Rates were highest among non-Hispanic Blacks, followed by American Indian/ Alaska Natives. Rates of gonorrhea were 459 and 528 per 100,000 adolescents and young adults, respectively, and were also highest among non-Hispanic Blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

HPV is the most common STI in the United States. Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, cases of HPV are not required to be reported to the CDC. However, a recent study indicated that 24.5 percent of females aged 14-19 years and 44.8 percent of those aged 20-24 years had an HPV infection in 2003-2004.1 There are many different types of HPV, some of which can cause cancer. Although cervical cancer in women is the most serious health problem caused by HPV, it is highly preventable with routine Pap tests and follow-up care. A vaccine for certain types of HPV was first approved in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in females aged 9-26 years.2 In 2007, 25 percent of females aged 13-17 years initiated the three-dose series.3

1 Dunne EF, Unger ER, Sternberg M, McQuillan G, Swan DC, Patel SS, Markowitz LE. Prevalence of HPV infection among females in the United States. JAMA. 2007 Feb;297(8):876-8.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention. HPV and HPV vaccines: information for healthcare providers. June 2006. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine-hcp.htm, viewed 9/3/08.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13-17 years - limited states, 2007. MMWR 2008; 57:1100.

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