Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between age and number of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) episodes in sexually active girls with their perceptions of the interpersonal implications of STD acquisition.
Methods: The sample consisted of 248 girls (mean age = 16.9 years); 74% had an STD history. Adolescents responded to statements using a five-point Likert scale regarding their interpersonal expectations, and rated the perceived prevalence of STD among their friends and among all adolescents.
Results: The results of logistic regression analyses indicated that older girls were less likely to tell their parents but did not perceive parental support differently than younger girls. Older girls were more likely to tell their partners and to be more embarrassed by the acquisition. Those with a greater number of STD episodes perceived the acquisition as a less negative event. Girls with a greater number of STD episodes perceived the prevalence of STD to be significantly greater among their friends and among all adolescents than those girls with fewer episodes. Overall, the perceived prevalence among friends (40%) was significantly lower than the perceived prevalence among teens in general (74%).
Conclusions: Future research and practice in aiding adolescent girls to manage STD acquisition must incorporate developmental theory, and, when appropriate, methods to involve families while preserving privacy.