Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Adolescents Entering Child Protective Services

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2015 Oct;28(5):324-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2014.09.011. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


Study objective: Persons aged 15-24 years have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Adolescents in protective services custody may be at even greater risk of acquiring STIs, but little is known about the prevalence of STIs among this population. We therefore set out to assess the prevalence of STIs among adolescents seen in the Harris County Child Protective Services Clinic.

Design: A retrospective chart review from January 2009 to December 2011 was conducted.

Setting and participants: Patients aged 12-18 years seen for their intake physical examination at the Harris County Child Protective Services Clinic in Houston, Texas.

Main outcome measures: Main outcome measures included the number of positive tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Secondary measures included sexual history, use of condoms and contraception, and reports of drug and alcohol use.

Results: Among 437 patients, 60% were female, their mean age was 15 years, and nearly half were African American. There were 27 cases of chlamydia, 12 of gonorrhea, 3 of syphilis, and none of HIV. Three of the teenagers who reported never having sex were positive for an STI. Being female, being older than 15 years, and having had sexual intercourse at least once were significant risk factors.

Conclusion: The prevalence of STIs in adolescents entering foster care was comparable to national averages. Recommending routine screening of all adolescents in this population is important to ensure better detection and treatment.

Keywords: Adolescents; Child protective services; Foster care; Sexually transmitted infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Protective Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Texas / epidemiology