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Notice to Readers: National STD Awareness Month --- April 2005

April is National Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Awareness Month, a health observance created to increase awareness about STDs, including their transmission, prevention, and treatment. STDs continue to be a major health threat in the United States, especially among adolescents and young adults. CDC estimates that 19 million new STD infections occur annually, nearly half of them among persons aged 15--24 years (1). Untreated STDs can lead to potentially severe and costly health consequences. Annual direct medical costs of STDs among persons aged 15--24 years are estimated at $6.5 billion (2).

STDs are preventable, and many are easily treated and cured. However, the majority of adolescents and young adults are not adequately screened for STDs. This is especially true for two of the most common STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both are easily treated, but because they are often asymptomatic (especially in females), screening is necessary to detect infection. In 2003, only 29% of young women aged 16--25 years in commercial managed health-care plans were screened for chlamydia, compared with breast and cervical cancer screening rates of approximately 75% (3). CDC and professional organizations such as the American Medical Association recommend that all sexually active women aged <25 years receive screening for chlamydia each year (4). Advances in diagnostic technology, including tests that can evaluate urine and vaginal swab specimens, enable screening for STDs in various settings, including school-based clinics and community-based organizations. Additional information regarding chlamydia and other STDs is available at http://www.cdc.gov/std.

References

  1. Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W Jr. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2004;36:6--10.
  2. Chesson HW, Blandford JM, Gift TL, Tao G, Irwin KL. The estimated direct medical cost of sexually transmitted diseases among American youth, 2000. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2004;36:11--9.
  3. National Committee for Quality Assurance. The state of health care quality 2004. Washington, DC: National Committee for Quality Assurance; 2004. Available at http://www.ncqa.org/communications/somc/sohc2004.pdf.
  4. CDC. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines 2002. MMWR 2002;51(No. RR-6).



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