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Announcement: STD Awareness Month — April 2012

April is STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to call attention to the impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States and the importance of discussing sexual health with health-care providers. With adolescents and young adults disproportionately affected by STDs, CDC is calling on health-care providers to initiate conversations about sexual health and deliver the recommended screenings and vaccinations to their young patients.

Estimates suggest that even though young persons make up only 25% of the sexually experienced population, nearly half of new STD cases occur in persons aged 15–24 years (1). Stigma, lack of information, lack of access to health care, and a combination of other behavioral and biologic factors contribute to high rates of STDs among teens and young adults.

Undetected and untreated STDs can increase a person's risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and cause other serious health consequences, such as infertility. STD screening can help detect disease early and, when combined with appropriate treatment, is one of the most effective tools available to protect one's health and prevent the spread of STDs to others.

Vaccinations against viral diseases that are sexually transmitted also are important tools for prevention. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine offers the greatest health benefit to persons who receive all 3 doses before they become sexually active.

To facilitate the discussion about sexual health and the delivery of CDC-recommended STD screenings and vaccinations to adolescents and young adults this STD Awareness Month, CDC is highlighting useful resources for health-care providers at its STD Awareness Month website (http://www.cdc.gov/std/sam). Clinics providing recommended STD screenings and vaccinations against hepatitis B and HPV can be located on the National HIV and STD Testing Resource website (http://www.findstdtest.org).

Reference

  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.

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