Summary: Young girls (ages 14-17) living in inner cities can become infected with an STD within two years after their first sexual encounter.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening should start within a year after first intercourse in urban adolescent women since a large number of these women get their first STI within that first year or two.

 

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a common problem among young people who are sexually active and they include infections with organisms such as Chlamydia trachomatis (Chlamydia), Neisseria gonorrheae (Gonorrhea) and Trichomonas vaginalis (Trichomoniasis).  According to a study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers followed 386 adolescent girls (aged 14-17) for up to 8 years in order to determine the time between first intercourse and first sexually transmitted infection (STIs), and the time between possible repeated infections.  The data collected from the study revealed that 51% of the sexually active women in the group had one or more STIs prior to their enrollment in the study. Furthermore, the researchers found that 25% of these girls had acquired their first STI by the age of 15, with Chlamydia being the most common STI. A researcher for this study noted that repeated infections were very frequent, and, within 4 to 6 months after being treated for the previous infection, 25% of the girls became re-infected with the same organism. The findings in this study have led researchers to propose a government program that includes regular STI screenings and treatment in urban adolescent women.  These programs would help to decrease the risk of complications resulting from untreated infections in this population of young women. In order for this to happen, screenings should begin within the first year after first intercourse. In addition, because of the ongoing risk for future infections, researchers suggest the need for follow-up screening as often as every 3 to 4 months. Evidence has shown that regular STI screening and treatment efforts will support the prevention of complications from sexually transmitted infections.1

1Time From First Intercourse to First Sexually Transmitted Infection Diagnosis Among Adolescent Women, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 163, No. 12, December 2009, pp. 1106-1111

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