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Half of Urban Teenaged Girls Acquire STDs within 2 Years of First Sexual Activity
Half of urban teenage girls may acquire at least one of three common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis within 2 years of becoming sexually active, according to results of a recent study.1
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute, both in Indianapolis, followed 381 females enrolled at ages 14-17 in three inner-city adolescent medicine clinics. At enrollment, teens completed a questionnaire and an interview to establish lifetime and recent sexual behaviors, as well as lifetime STD history, and were tested via cervical and vaginal specimens. Study participants returned for follow-up every 3 months for interviews and testing. In alternating quarters, they were instructed to complete daily behavioral diaries and submit weekly self-administered vaginal swabs for STD testing.
By age 15, 25% of the women acquired their first STD, with chlamydia the most common first infection. Depending on the organism, within 4-6 months after treatment of the previous infection, 25% of the women were reinfected with the same organism.
Within 2 years, about 75% of participants with an initial STD were diagnosed with a second infection, although not necessarily of the same type. Within 4 years of an initial infection, 92% of the participants had a subsequent STD.
As a result of their findings, the Indiana researchers call for STI screening in sexually active teenage girls within a year after first intercourse and for retesting of infected females every 3-4 months. Continuing surveillance might be necessary due to the continuing high risk of infection, even if the first rescreening test result is negative.1