A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that one in four (26%) female adolescents in the United States has at least one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The teens were tested for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, chlamydia, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection, and trichomoniasis. The authors of the study examined high-risk HPV types, including “23 types of the virus that are known to cause cancer, and the two types that cause most genital warts.”
The researchers estimate that with the overall STI prevalence of 26 percent, “about 3.2 million adolescent females in the United States are infected with one of these STIs.” However, they also note that the total prevalence might be slightly higher than these estimates indicate, because some STIs less common for that age group (e.g., syphilis, HIV and gonorrhea) were not included in the analysis.
In addition to overall STI prevalence, key findings of the new study include the following:
- The most common STI was cancer- and genital wart-associated HPV (18.3%), followed by chlamydia (3.9%), trichomoniasis (2.5%), and HSV-2 (1.9%). Among the teenage girls who had an STI, 15 percent had more than one.
- By race, African American teenage girls had the highest prevalence, with an overall STI prevalence of 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both whites and Mexican Americans.
- Overall, approximately half of all the teens in the study reported ever having had sex. Among these girls, the STI prevalence was 40 percent.
- Even among girls reporting only one lifetime partner, one in five (20.4%) had at least one STI. Girls with three or more partners had a prevalence of over 50 percent. The predominant STI was HPV.
The authors note that “the high prevalence of HPV indicates that teenage girls are at high risk for this infection, even those with few lifetime sexual partners.”
You would think such news would generate a backlash against the failed sex education policies that encourage young girls to engage in such risky sexual behavior. Yet in The New York Times the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, is quoted saying the new findings “emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education” and that “The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure…and teenage girls are paying the real price.”
The executives of Planned Parenthood make the tobacco lobbyists look like models of veracity, so it isn’t surprising to hear their president tell such a bold-faced lie. But while Ms. Richards is evil–and yes, she is evil–I doubt she is stupid. She certainly can’t be as stupid as she thinks we must be to accept her reality-twisting claim about “comprehensive sex education.”