Rates of reported sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are highest among adolescent and young adult women. In 2003, chlamydia and gonorrhea were the most commonly diagnosed STDs. The rate of chlamydia among adolescents (aged 15-19) was 2,687 cases per 100,000 females, and the rate of gonorrhea was 635 per 100,000 females. The rates for both of these STDs decrease with age.

Significant racial and ethnic differences exist in the reported rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea. Among non-Hispanic Black females there were 1,633 cases of chlamydia and 616 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 females in 2003, compared to 218 and 39 cases, respectively, per 100,000 non-Hispanic White females.

A third STD, syphilis, remains relatively rare (0.8 cases per 100,000 women). In 2003, this condition disproportionately affected non-Hispanic Black females (4.2 per 100,000 females) and American Indian/Alaska Native females (1.5 per 100,000 females). Although these conditions are treatable with antibiotics, STDs can have serious health consequences. Active infections can increase the odds of contracting HIV, and untreated STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Graph: STDs Among Females by Age[d]

Graph: STDs Among Females by Race/Ethnicity[d]