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Girls and young women have higher rates of both chlamydia, gonorrhea

November 16, 2009 | 10:00 am

Today, we get new data on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections in the United States. And it appears that girls and young women age 15 to 19 -- especially African American girls and women -- are at considerable risk; they have the highest number of cases of both chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Increased screening may be responsible for some, but not all, of these numbers, the report says. Among the highlights of the 2008 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

-- Chlamydia: 1.2 million total cases reported; 342,875 in the aforementioned age group. Women are more likely to be severely affected in the long term, experts say, but men and women likely have similar disease rates. Men just don't get tested as much.

-- Gonorrhea: 336,742 total cases reported, again with girls and young women having the highest rates. Experts believe the true number is almost twice this amount.

-- Syphilis: 13,500 total cases reported, most among men who have sex with men.

What's needed, the report says, is better screening and treatment -- and behavioral interventions (safe sex, among other things). And, it says, we must do something about the racial disparities. 

Here's the summary of the new data, with highlights. And here's the full report: Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2008.

-- Tami Dennis