Get Your Facts Straight: Teens and STDs

Whether you’re a teenager or the parent of a teen, it’s important that you get your facts straight about sexually transmitted diseases. Teens think that they’re invincible, and adults know they are not. When it comes to STDs, unless you have never taken your clothes off and had skin to skin contact with another person, you’re at risk. Here’s what you should know:


1.Scary Statistics

While it’s never recommended to use scare tactics to make someone avoid a risky behavior, there’s no getting around these frightening numbers: More than 110 million people in the United States have a sexually transmitted disease. People aged 15 through 24 account for half of all new, reported infections. You should also know that, when it comes to the industrialized world, the US has the highest rate of STD infection.


Gonorrhea is one of the more commonly transmitted STDs (Chlamydia is the most common). This may be due to the fact that people who are infected–particularly women often show no symptoms. Among the reported cases of gonorrhea, the highest rate of infection is in 15 to 19-year-old girls and men in their early 20s. In fact, 75 percent of all reported cases of gonorrhea can be found in young people aged 15 to 29. If you participate in risky sexual behaviors, you can be almost guaranteed to contract a case of gonorrhea; that’s how prevalent this infection is.

3.Teens and Sex

As much as adults don’t like to think about teenagers having sex, teenagers do have sex. Rather than keeping the blinders on, it’s time to talk to teenagers about the risks that they are taking with their health. Among American high school students, close to half have had sexual intercourse. This means that for every 100 high school students, 50 are sexually active and at risk for contracting an STD. Consider then, that only about 30 of these teens report using condoms, whether occasionally or consistently, and you can easily see just why so many teens are contracting STIs.

4. HIV Testing

While it’s incredibly important to be tested for HIV if you are sexually active, only half of adults under the age of 45 have been tested for any other STD. Part of the reason can be attributed to the fact that infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia and genital herpes may be symptomless. For those people who do exhibit symptoms, simple embarrassment can be enough to keep them from being tested. Anyone who is sexually active should be tested for STDs at least annually.

5. HPV

Human papillomavirus is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in the country. While some of those infected will develop genital or anal warts, others will display no symptoms. Left untreated, HPV can cause infertility in women and sterility in men. HPV is also a leading cause of cervical cancer in women. If you are under the age of 26, or you have a young daughter, a vaccination against this infection is available.

Teenagers need to understand that the risk of STIs is very real; especially in the United States. Any teen that has had sexual intercourse, whether once or 100 times, is potentially carrying an STI. Safe sex practices and yearly testing should be the norm for every sexually active teenager.

Sue L. McBride writes for public health blogs. If you’re sexually active, make sure to get regular std tests. Make sure to visit testing centers in Orlando:

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