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Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Anyone who engages in sexual activity with another person who has not received an STD test is at risk for becoming infected. However, some groups are particularly vulnerable. Teens and young adults make up what is perhaps the group with the highest risk.
Even though individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 only make up about 25 percent of the nation's total population, they receive roughly half of all new positive STD tests, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many young people may lack health insurance, transportation or other factors necessary for accessing preventative tools. This likely contributes to the high rates of infection. Addressing these social and cultural issues may be the key to controlling STD risk among teens and young adults.
From 2009 to 2010, the number of people between the ages of 20 and 24 infected with chlamydia increased by 7.8 percent, according to the CDC. The rate among teenagers jumped 2.8 percent. At a time when public health agencies are making progress battling a number STDs in most age groups, this represents a major backslide.
There was a similar lack of progress fighting gonorrhea infections among young people during this time period. The CDC reports that rates among 20-24-year-olds jumped 4.9 percent. Infections among individuals between the ages of 15 and 19 increase 1.4 percent.
The battle against syphilis may be the only one that can be viewed as any kind of success. After infections increased among young people each year from 2004 to 2009, researchers saw rates fall off slightly in 2010. While this represents progress, it is too soon to tell if STD testing and prevention efforts are actually turning back the tide, or if 2010 was just a blip in the data.
A higher prevalence of STD testing may play a role in the rising infection rates among teens. The CDC reports that about 20,000 females and 35,000 males have been screened each year since 1990 through the National Job Training Program.
Still, this may not account for the entire increase, particularly in recent years. Overcoming young people's reluctance and inability to seek preventative treatments may be central to any efforts to curb the high rates of infection among teens and young adults.
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