The growing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in adolescents: a neglected population

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2018 Feb;30(1):137-143. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000578.


Purpose of review: Sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence is on the rise in the United States. The increase is especially pronounced in adolescents (15-24 years of age). Despite making up only a quarter of the population, adolescents account for approximately half of new STIs in the United States every year. This review summarizes recent developments in the field of STIs, excluding HIV, in adolescents.

Recent findings: In this review, we examine the epidemiology, screening, management, and prevention of STIs in adolescents. STI rates in adolescents have been rising since 2014, with young women and MSM at particularly high risk. Barriers to STI screening for adolescents include confidentiality concerns and lack of access to health services. Prevention through STI vaccines represents a promising way to combat the epidemic.

Summary: STIs are a growing concern for adolescents. Routine screening and management are of critical importance. Furthermore, prevention efforts such as human papillomavirus vaccination should be prioritized. Much of the current literature on STIs does not address the unique nature of STIs in adolescents, and additional research into effective prevention and treatment strategies of STIs in adolescents is urgently needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • United States / epidemiology