Young People Account for Half of New STDs
New Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Youth Cost $6.5 Billion
WebMD News Archive
STDs Affect Youth Disproportionately continued...
Researchers say these findings may still underestimate the true
impact of STDs on youth. They say any attempt to estimate the prevalence of
STDs is severely hampered by the fact that many STDs do not cause symptoms and
often go unreported because the infected individual doesn't seek medical
In addition, young, apparently healthy, persons may have
limited contact with health care providers that might screen for STDs.
"Nevertheless, given the available information about the
burden of STDs among sexually active young people, our estimate of 9.1 million
new infections [48%] in 2000 among 15-24-year-olds demonstrates the tremendous
toll these infections continue to have on youth in America," write CDC
researcher Hillard Weinstock and colleagues.
New Approaches Urged to Combat STDs
The CDC reports did not offer explanations for why STDs affect
youth disproportionately, but experts say the findings show that new approaches
are needed to reduce the impact of STDs on youth.
"These numbers on the human and financial costs of STDs in
youth should be a wake-up call for the nation," says Joan Cates of the
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass
Communication, in a news release. "We're not using the tools already
available to fight these infections, and we're letting down our youth because
"At the most basic level, we are not communicating well
enough to make a difference," says Cates. "We need a comprehensive
dialogue on the issue."
Sharon Camp of The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group
that conducts and sponsors research on sexual issues, says federally sponsored
STD prevention programs need to look beyond abstinence.
"Although abstaining from sexual activity is guaranteed to
prevent STDs, some adolescents -- and virtually all young adults -- will
eventually choose to have sex," says Camp, in a news release. "Before
they do, they need realistic sex education that teaches them how to prevent
STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It is essential to have medically accurate
information about condoms and other contraceptive methods, and guidance in how
to access appropriate prevention, testing, and treatment services."