MEMPHIS, TN — Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) is calling for better screening of adolescent girls for sexually transmitted infections as a result of a study released this week by a prestigious medical journal.
The study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine indicates that half of teenage girls become infected with at least one of three common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) within two years of having sex for the first time.
Researchers with the Indiana University School of Medicine followed 386 urban adolescent girls aged 14 to 17 for up to eight years. Within two years of becoming sexually active, half of the girls were infected with at least one of three common sexually transmitted organisms: chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. One quarter of the women acquired their first STI by age 15, most commonly chlamydia. The researchers also found that repeated infections were also very common, usually with the same organism.
While the study shows that young women are at risk of STIs as soon as they become sexually active, many health care providers do not regularly screen young adolescent patients for STIs.
“Many of the most common STIs cause few if any symptoms in women, and if left untreated, sexually transmitted infections can lead to scarring, infertility and other health problems, said Tarsha Elliott, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region’s Director of Clinic Services. “Young sexually active women should be screened for STIs early and often.”
The study also reveals the need for comprehensive sexuality education that includes information about sexually transmitted diseases and the use of condoms. Condoms, when used consistently and correctly have been shown to reduce the risk of STI transmission.
PPGMR offers testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections for both men and women in its health center at 1407 Union Avenue, Suite 300. For more information or to schedule an appointment, go to www.ppgmr.org or call 901-725-3008.
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR), founded in 1938, is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. PPGMR’s mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive and related health care through clinic services, education, advocacy and community partnerships in serving 42 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas.
Director of Community Affairs
December 10, 2009