Youth STI rates at all-time high

Center for Adolescent Nursing News

October 17, 2019

Renee Sieving

With nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates are at an all-time high in the U.S.

The same holds true in Minnesota, where rates of STIs reached all-time peaks in 2017. Affecting individuals of all ages, STIs take a particularly heavy toll on adolescents and young adults. While 15-24 year olds make up one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for half of the new STIs in the U.S. each year. Sexually Transmitted Diseases among U.S. Adolescents & Young Adults: Patterns, Clinical Considerations & Prevention, published by Center for Adolescent Nursing Director Renee Sieving and her colleagues in 2019, examines trends in youth STIs.

At first glance, one might guess that youth STI rates would be dropping. Fewer adolescents have had sexual intercourse and sexually experienced adolescents and young adults are having less sex with fewer partners than in years past. And as Sieving and colleagues’ article details, evidence-based approaches exist for STI screening, treatment and prevention that are designed to be offered through clinic, community, school and public health settings. However, federal funding for STI prevention and treatment has been stagnant for almost two decades, limiting the use of known effective approaches. “Among young people, STI prevention efforts must reach beyond clinics and schools, be attuned to adolescent and young adult development, capitalize on youth-friendly technologies and change social contexts in ways that support young people in making healthy sexual decisions,” said Sieving.