At-risk adolescent females are more likely to have sexually transmitted infections compared with the general population, according to recent study findings published in Clinical Pediatrics.
Christopher N. Ochner, PhD, of The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and colleagues evaluated 861 female adolescents aged 12 to 19 years to determine rates of STIs among the population. Participants were included if they had ever engaged in vaginal or anal intercourse and intended to get or already received the quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil, Merck).
Chlamydia was the most commonly reported STI (31.8%); followed by HPV (6%); trichomoniasis (5.8%); gonnorhea (4.7%); genital warts (3.4%), genital herpes (2.3%); syphilis (1.6%); oral herpes (1.5%); perineal warts (1.1%); HIV (1.1%); pubic lice (1%); and perineal herpes (0.4%). Non-STI diagnoses including yeast or urinary tract infections were reported by 28 adolescents in the study.
Testing performed prior to enrollment revealed that 15.4% of the girls had chlamydia, 12.5% had genital herpes, 5.6% had gonnorhea, and none tested positive for syphilis or HIV.
Of the 259 adolescent girls who tested for chlamydia, 2.7% reported a negative history but had a positive test result in electronic medical records. This was also true for 2.8% of 283 adolescents tested for gonnorhea and 6.3% of 16 those tested for genital herpes. No cases of HIV or syphilis were reported among patients with a negative history despite positive test results.
“Our data show a high prevalence of STIs from both a self-reported perspective and objective EMR in our primarily low-SES, minority sample,” the researchers wrote. “A check of congruence between self-reported lifetime prevalence and EMR data identified underreporting for particular STIs.”
The researchers added that underreporting could put adolescents at risk and delay proper health care service needs.
“These data may be particularly useful when considered in conjunction with prior cross-sectional studies to create a comprehensive picture of STI prevalence in underserved, minority adolescent females,” they wrote. “Taken together with prior literature, findings in this study suggest that STI rates in at-risk adolescent females are higher than in the general population and persist at an elevated level throughout adolescence, thus improvements in STI prevalence and management efforts targeting high-risk populations are required.”
Disclosure: The study was funded by the NIH and the Einstein Cancer Research Center of the National Cancer Institute. The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.