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Young People Account for Most New STD Infections

Published on June 7th, 2017

According to the CDC, young people between the ages 15-24 account for 50% of all new STD infections each year. However, this age group only makes up a quarter of the overall sexually active population, meaning young people are more likely to transmit STDs than their older counterparts.

Some of the most common infections in this age group include chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, HIV, HPV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. For instance, women in this age group are likely to contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HPV.

Reasons for Increased Transmission

Young people are more likely to transmit STDs for a variety of reasons:

  1. Lack of education: If young people are not informed about proper contraceptive and safe sex practices, they are less likely to use barriers like condoms or dental dams and less likely to know how to use these methods correctly. Thus, while parents and teachers might encourage adolescents to abstain from sex, informing them of safe sexual practices helps to ensure that they make informed choices to protect themselves and their future partners.
  2. Lack of access: While all 50 states and Washington, D.C. allow minors to consent to their own sexual health screenings, this does not mean access is easy for young people. Young people may not know how to navigate the healthcare system without informing their guardians, for instance. Also, health care providers do not always bring up sexual health questions with adolescents and young people may be too nervous to bring up these questions themselves.
  3. Lack of symptoms: Many common STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV, do not always present symptoms, or the symptoms can be mistaken for other kinds of infections. This results in lack of treatment and further increases the risk of spreading the disease to new sexual partners.

Reducing the Risk

Young people need to be educated about safe sex practices. If your children’s school does not provide sex education, you should talk with your child about the proper use of condoms, dental dams, and birth control. Make sure your child understands that birth control methods such as the pill do not protect against STDs.

Young people can also get vaccinated against HPV. The vaccination is most effective if given to young people around the ages of 11-12. Strains of HPV can result in cervical cancer in women and penis cancer in men, so it’s important for both boys and girls to get vaccinated.

In addition to education about safe sex, young people should know how to express and recognize consent, While this can be a difficult conversation, it is essential to helping prevent rape.

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