New study says one in four teenage girls has STD
Posted at 5:40 PM on March 12, 2008 by Nanci Olesen (4 Comments)
One in four teenage girls in the U. S. has a sexually transmitted disease.
This statistic, from a first-of-its-kind study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 24 percent of girls ages 14 to 19 have at least one of four common STDs.
The STDs tested for were human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, herpes simplex, and trichomoniasis.
48 percent of African American teenage girls are infected with an STD. 20 percent of young white women are infected.
People who work in public health say that the startling infection rates show the need for more access to treatment, screening, and vaccination.
The CDC recommends that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 be vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can lead to cervical cancer.
About 50% of women who get cervical cancer die from it.
The HPV vaccine has been available and approved for girls for two years.
The same vaccine will be available for boys in 2009.
Some parents are skeptical that boys need vaccination. The vaccine is not yet approved for boys, and the Centers for Disease Control say it's not clear whether it will be effective in men or boys.
If it is, it might help prevent genital warts or cancers in men too.
The CDC calls it "herd immunity" when both sexes are vaccinated.
This new data is a wake-up call to parents and public health officials to be sure teenagers have access to comprehensive sex education.
What do you think?
Will you have your daughters (and next year, your sons) vaccinated?
I would first like to thank you for highlighting what (STD's) is a serious concern among teenage kids. However, I would caution you on your cause and effect interpretation of the CDC findings. 1) 1 in 4 teenage girls do not have an STD but 1 in 4 girls are ESTIMATED to have an STD. Think ascertainment bias etc.( participants were surveyed once already at a clinic and only had a sample population of 838 girls) It is important, I think, when the media reports medical findings they need to report, for the benefit of their audience, the exactly who, how and what was found, nothing more. 2) More importantly, to blanket state that HPV leads to cervical cancer is wrong and misleading. Only 80% of the 1 of the 4 most common forms of HPV lead to cervical cancer. This talking point is commonly misrepresented by the media. In addition, not every girl should choose to get vaccinated against HPV as you stated. The CDC recommends vaccination but anybody familiar with the statistics of the vaccine study nows that it is ESTIMATED that it will protect approx 75% of women whom have 1 of the 4 forms of HPV that it covers, which is not the most common form of HPV that leads to cervical cancer. Please check the affiliation of the investigators with the pharmaceutical companies before take their findings and recommendations at face value. In the end this report sounded more scare tactic commercial to get people to take the vaccine.
Posted by Randy Daughters | March 12, 2008 8:56 PM
Thanks for your comments.
Interpreting the study correctly for the listening audience is important.
My concluding remarks were that parents can consider getting their teenage daughters vaccinated against HPV.
Posted by Nanci Olesen | March 13, 2008 10:20 AM
My sister died of cervical cancer - and she got her annual pap smears religiously. I will vaccinate my daughter the same way I make sure she gets a flu shot every year. Just as a flu shot is not guaranteed effective against the flu that may be circulating that particular year, the cervical cancer vaccine may not be 100% protection against cervical cancer, but anything that will provide a reasonable amount of protection is well worth it. I don't care how rare it is that someone who got pap smears still dies of cervical cancer -- I will do anything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen to a daughter of mine.
Posted by Liz | March 17, 2008 1:24 PM
Thanks for this airing this story - I was so pleased to hear a family and parenting oriented story on MPR. What a refreshing addition to MPR's programming - thank you!
Posted by awen | April 14, 2008 5:57 PM