STI Statistics and Young People

Estimating how many sexually transmitted infection (STI) cases occur is not a simple or straightforward task. First, most STIs can be “silent,” causing no noticeable symptoms. These asymptomatic infections can be diagnosed only through testing. Unfortunately, routine screening programs are not widespread, and social stigma and lack of public awareness concerning STIs often inhibits frank discussion between health care providers and patients about STI risk and the need for testing. Even from estimates, however, what is clear from the statistics about STIs in the U.S. is that young people bear a large portion of the STI burden. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

• Half of all STIs occur in people 25 years of age or younger.

• One in four new STI cases occur in teenagers.

• Young people (age 15-24) have five times the reported rate of chlamydia of the total population, four times the rate of gonorrhea and three times the rate of syphilis.

• In 2006, an estimated 5,259 young people aged 13-24 in the 33 states reporting to CDC were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, representing about 14% of the persons diagnosed that year.

CDC offers information on reportable STI rates in the U.S. for persons 15-24 by state and offers a wealth of information on youth and sexual risk behaviors as well.

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