Worryingly, a new study from Indiana University has found that 50 percent of urban teenage girls (aged from 14 to 17) could acquire at least one of three common sexually transmitted infections (STI) within two years of becoming sexually active.
The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, additionally found that repeated infection with chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis was also very common.
"Depending on the organism, within four to six months after treatment of the previous infection, a quarter of the women were re-infected with the same organism," lamented researcher Wanzhu Tu.
Tu added that within two years, about three-quarters of participants with an initial sexually transmitted STI were diagnosed with a second STI, although not necessarily of the same type. Incredibly, within four years of an initial STI, virtually all (92 percent) of the participants had a subsequent STI.
"To our knowledge, this study provides the first data on the timing of the initial STI and subsequent STI following the onset of sexual activity in urban adolescent women," said Tu. The study also found that screening for STIs may not be initiated until several years after sexual activity begins - especially for girls who commence sexual activity earlier.
The researchers recommend STI screening for sexually active teenage girls within a year after first intercourse and retesting of infected girls every 3 to 4 months. Continuing surveillance may be necessary, they conclude, because of the continuing high risk of infection even if the first rescreening test result is negative.
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Source: Indiana University School of Medicine