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News: December 5, 2009

Half of teen girls have STIs by 2 years of first sex

December 5, 2009

Within 2 years of having sex for the first time, half of teenage girls may be at least one of three common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to results of a study published today. Often, those girls are infected by the age of 15.
Researchers followed 386 urban adolescent girls aged 14 to 17 for up to 8 years. Within 2 years of becoming sexually active, half of the girls were infected with at least one of three common sexually transmitted organisms: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or Trichomonas vaginalis -- the organisms that cause chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, respectively.
The researchers found that a quarter of the women had acquired their first STI by age 15, most often Chlamydia.
"Repeated infections were very common," study investigator Dr. Wanzhu Tu, of Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis told Reuters Health by email. "Within 4 to 6 months (depending on the organism) after treatment of the previous infection, a quarter of the women were re-infected with the same organism."
Tu said young women are at risk of STIs as soon as they become sexually active, but recommendations are lacking about when it is appropriate to begin screening.
"These young women are vulnerable to STIs, but because of their younger age, they may not be perceived by health care providers as having STI risk, and thus are not screened in a timely manner."
The current findings, Tu said, highlight the importance of early STI screening and treatment. "For urban adolescent women, STI screening (especially for chlamydia) should begin within 1 year after first intercourse and infected individuals should be retested frequently, preferably every 3 to 4 months," the researcher said.
"To my knowledge, this study provides the first data on the timing of the initial STI and subsequent STIs following the onset of sexual activity in urban adolescent women," Tu added.
The study findings appear in the latest issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, published by the American Medical Association.
A companion paper in the journal details a program that proved successful in curbing risky sexual behavior among 15- to 21-year-old African American adolescent girls and young women.
The participants, all of whom where visiting a sexual health clinic in Atlanta, took part in two group counseling sessions and received telephone support and vouchers to give to their partners to encourage them to get tested and treated for STIs.
This study is "exciting" for several reasons, Dr. Bonita Stanton from Wayne State University in Detroit wrote in a commentary. First, the program reduced first and recurrent chlamydia infections and led to higher rates of self-reported condom use, she points out.
Second, it got the teen girls cut back on douching, which has been linked to increased risk of STIs.
But perhaps "most intriguing," Stanton wrote, is that the young adolescent girls who participated in the program were able to convince their sexual partners to get tested for STIs.


Archive issues: (50)

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November 26, 2009 | Baby's Crying Patterns Mimic Parents' Accent

A baby's cry isn't just a method for getting mom's attention for food or comfort. It is also an important beginning to the development of language.  It is known that fetus can hear outside sounds from the womb during the last three months of pregnancy, but now German researchers ...

November 25, 2009 | Green Tea Extract Helps Prevent Oral Cancer

A leading cancer center reports that green tea extract may be helpful in preventing oral cancer in patients who have a pre-malignant condition called oral leukoplakia. The five-year survival rate among oral cancer patients is less than 50 percent.  Green tea extract has been the focus of many studies, with research suggesting that the ...

November 24, 2009 | Aggressive Tooth Brushing The 1st Cause Of Tooth Pain

One in three dentists say that aggressive toothbrushing is the most common cause of sensitive teeth, according to a nationwide member survey conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Acidic food and beverage consumption was found to be the number two ...

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