Sexually Transmitted Infections

Reported rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among females vary by a number of factors, including age and race/ethnicity. Rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are highest among adolescents and young adults. In 2006, there were 2,862.7 reported cases of chlamydia and 647.9 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 females aged 15–19 years, compared to 25.6 and 12.9 reported cases, respectively, per 100,000 females aged 45–54 years. Syphilis was also most common among young women, occurring at a rate of 2.9 per 100,000 females aged 20–24 years; 2.5 per 100,000 females aged 25–29 years, and 2.3 per 100,000 females aged 15–19 years (data not shown).

Although these STIs are treatable with antibiotics, they can have serious health consequences. Active infections can increase the likelihood of contracting another STI, such as HIV, and untreated STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Another STI, genital human papillomavirus (HPV), has been estimated to affect at least 50 percent of the sexually active population at some point in their lives.1 In 2003–2004, 27.5 percent of females aged 18–59 years were found to have HPV. This varied by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Black women were most likely to have HPV (39.6 percent), compared to non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women (25.0 and 28.3 percent, respectively). There are many different types of HPV, and some, which are referred to as “high-risk,” can cause cancer. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine that protects women from four strains of HPV that can be the source of cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, and genital warts.ibid Since 2006, 10 percent of women aged 18–26 years have received this vaccine.2

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV and HPV Vaccine - Information for Healthcare Providers. Aug 2006., accessed 01/16/08.
2 Fox, Maggie. “Too few US adults get their shots, survey shows.” Reuters. January 23, 2008 [online]., accessed 03/26/08.

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