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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Reported rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among females are highest among adolescents and young adults. In 2004, the rate of chlamydia among females aged 15 to 19 years was 2,761 cases per 100,000, and the rate of gonorrhea diagnoses among this age group was 611 per 100,000. The rates for both of these STIs then begin to decrease with age. While rates of STIs among 10- to 14-year-olds are relatively low, these cases raise concerns about potential sexual abuse of minors.

In 2004, there were 1,722 cases of chlamydia and 592 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 non-Hispanic Black females, compared to 226 and 40 cases, respectively, per 100,000 non-Hispanic White females. American Indian/Alaska Native females also have high rate of STIs, with 1,127 and 155 cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, per 100,000 females respectively.
Although these conditions are treatable with antibiotics, STIs can have serious health consequences. Active infections can increase the odds of contracting HIV, and untreated STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Another STI, genital human papillomavirus (HPV), is estimated to affect at least 50 percent of the sexually active population. There are many different types of HPV, and some, which are referred to as “high-risk,” can cause cancer. Although cervical cancer in women is the most serious health problem caused by HPV, it is highly preventable with regular Pap tests and follow-up care.1

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention. HPV: common infection, common reality. May 2004. Available from:

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.