Several new studies reveal that teenagers and young adults accounted for 50 percent of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections in 2000 in the United States. One study, conducted by Family Health International and the Center for Disease Control’s Division of STD Prevention, found that of the 18.9 million new STI cases in 2000, 9.1 million occurred among people between the ages of 15 and 24. Another study by the CDC found that the 9.1 million STI cases among youth have a $6.5 billion lifetime medical cost. The greatest costs were associated with HIV/AIDS and human papillomavirus (HPV).
The studies appeared in the January/February issue of Perspectives in Sexual and Reproductive Health, which is published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). “It is not surprising that teens and young adults contract a disproportionate number of infections,” said Sharon Camp of AGI in a press release. “Most young people are sexually active and many are ill-equipped to prevent STDs or seek testing and treatment.”
A separate report released by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, in partnership with Advocates for Youth, analyzes the results of the CDC studies and offers solutions to the growing problem, including comprehensive sexuality education that will teach young people about abstinence as well as birth control and safer sex practices. “For the 27 million young Americans under the age of 25 who have had sex, the stakes are simply too high to talk only about abstinence,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, according to Reuters. “Given the prevalence of STDs, young people need all the facts – including medically accurate information on condoms.”