2000 STD Prevention Conference - Most Teens Not Provided STD or Pregnancy Prevention Counseling during Check-ups

Opportunity to Educate Teens Often Overlooked, According to CDC Study

MILWAUKEE (December 5, 2000) – Most high school students undergoing routine physical examinations do not talk to their health care practitioner about preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy, according to a CDC study released today at the National STD Prevention Conference being held Dec. 4 to 7 in Milwaukee. The findings suggest that a greater effort is needed to encourage health care providers to talk with teenage patients about STD and pregnancy prevention.

The study found that among high school students who had received a routine check-up during the previous year, only 42.8 percent of females and 26.4 percent of males had discussed STD or pregnancy prevention with their health care provider. The study, authored by CDC researcher Gale Burstein and colleagues, was based on data from CDC’s 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative survey of 15,349 high school students.

“Many health care providers are missing important opportunities to provide STD and pregnancy prevention counseling to youth,” said Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHSTP). “Many teens are sexually active and STDs remain a serious threat to their health. Comprehensive health education in schools, communities and homes needs to be supplemented with communication between doctors and their teen patients about STD and pregnancy prevention.”

The CDC study identified demographic and behavioral characteristics that were associated with discussions about STDs and pregnancy prevention during routine check-ups. Not surprisingly, both male and female high school students were more likely to have these discussions if they were sexually experienced, and female students ages 17 or older were more likely to have the discussions than were female students ages 14 or younger.

Teenagers remain at high risk for STD infection. By the twelfth grade, 65 percent of high school students have ever had sexual intercourse, and one in five has had four or more sexual partners. Teens account for a significant proportion of the 15 million STD infections in the United States each year. Forty percent of chlamydia cases are reported among young people age 15 to 19, females in that age group also have the highest rates of gonorrhea. Many STDs can cause serious health problems – pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increase risk for HIV transmission – if they are not detected and treated.

# # #

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

CDC’s STD Program provides national leadership through research, policy development, and support of effective services to prevent all sexually transmitted diseases and their complications. To accomplish this goal, CDC provides funding and guidance to state and local public health departments and community based organizations to track the course of STD epidemics, raise awareness of STDs, and to design, implement, and evaluate prevention and treatment programs.