Turns out, teenage girls aren’t getting screened early enough for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They’re getting infected and passing that infection on to their partners.
Recommendations based on recent studies are to screen girls within a year of their first sexual experience. If they have an STI, they should be retested every three to four months until they become infection-free.
Prevention strategies include early sex education and routine HPV vaccination for 11 and 12 year olds.
One study examined rates of sexually transmitted infections occurring among girls in U.S. cities. The study found that half of these teenagers had at least one of three common STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis) within the first two years of becoming sexually active.
The study also reported that in 25% of cases, the girls became re-infected with the same STI within four to six months of completing treatment. Seventy-five percent of the girls reported receiving treatment for at least one more STI during the two years that followed their first infection. Four years after getting their first STI diagnosis, 92% of the girls had experienced at least one additional STI.
Another study examined a group of 838 girls aged 14-19 and found that 24% of them had had at least one of five common STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, herpes simplex virus type 2, and human papillomavirus).
Among those girls who admitted to being sexually experienced, the rate of past or present STI infection was 37.7%. The study also confirmed that for these girls, the STI infection often occurred within the first year of becoming sexually active. Twenty percent of girls who reported only one partner in their lifetime reported they’d had an infection.
Do you have a daughter? Talk to her about STIs and how to prevent infection. Do it even if you think she will not have sex before marriage. Do it even if she’s already sexually active. If she is active, get her screened for infection so that treatment can be given, should it be necessary.