Study: Young people made up half of new STD cases in 2014

WASHINGTON — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the United States, and one age group is being hit hard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, in 2014, reported cases were up for all three of the sexually transmitted diseases tracked: chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Syphilis saw the biggest increase — up 15.1 percent over 2013. Gonorrhea was up 5.1 percent, and chlamydia — the most common STD — rose by 2.8 percent.

While anyone can become infected with an STD, the CDC numbers show young people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for about half the new cases reported in 2014.

“Youth has been disproportionately represented in terms of the numbers of cases for a long time,” said Dr. Lawrence D’Angelo, chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine with the Children’s National Health System.

His practice seems to follow the national trend, although the age window is a bit narrower, with most cases detected in the late teenage years, between 18 and 21.

“The more screening we do, the more sexually transmitted infections we are seeing,” D’Angelo said.

He said cases are increasing because teens aren’t hearing about the dangers of STDs.

“We have really let down our guard in terms of education about the importance of barrier protection at virtually any sort of sexual contact,” D’Angelo said.

Programs that use a little peer pressure to convey the message seem to work exceptionally well, he added.

STDs can do big damage to a young body if left untreated.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can result in infertility in young women, and D’Angelo said all STDs increase the likelihood of HIV being transmitted.

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