More Info: Teens & STDs

  • Every year 3 million teens acquire an STD.
  • Every year about 1 in 4 sexually experienced teens acquire an STD.
  • In a single act of unprotected sex with an infected partner, a teenage woman has a 1% risk of acquiring HIV, a 30% risk of getting genital herpes and a 50% chance of contracting gonorrhea.
  • Chlamydia is more common among teens than among older men and women; in some settings, 10-29% of sexually active teenage women and 10% of teenage men tested for STDs have been found to have chlamydia.
  • Teens have higher rates of gonorrhea than do sexually active men and women aged 20-44.
  • In some studies, up to 15% of sexually active teenage women have been found to be infected with the human papillomavirus, many with a strain of the virus linked to cervical cancer.
  • Teenage women have a higher hospitalization rate than older women for acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is most often caused by untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia. PID can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
  • Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse is considered a potential contributor to STDs. Sexual abuse includes contact or non-contact molestation, coercive sexual experiences, attempted rape, and rape. The prevalence of STDs in sexual abuse victims varies depending on the prevalence in the community, the type of STD, and the type of abuse.

STD Facts


Diseases that are spread through sexual contact are usually called “sexually transmitted diseases,” or STDs. Recently, however, many public health experts have suggested replacing STD with a new term — “sexually transmitted infection,” or STI.

Why the change? The word “disease,” as in STD, implies a clear medical problem, usually some obvious symptom. But many of the most common STDs have no signs or symptoms in infected women and men, or they have mild signs and symptoms that are easily overlooked. So the sexually transmitted virus or bacteria can be described as creating “infection,” which may or may not result in a “disease.”

This is true of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), to name a few. All STDs are STIs, but not all STIs are STDs. For this reason, in some of the published literature, the term “disease” has been replaced by “infection.”

Teens & Condoms

For people under the age of 18, condoms fail for 18.4% of couples within 12 months. In preventing pregnancy, condoms have a general standardized failure rate of 14.7% over the course of a year, but for teens living together, condom users experience an unplanned pregnancy of over 50% over the course of a year. For teens not living together, condoms users experienced an unplanned pregnancy of 14-23% of the time over the course of a year.

Resources about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)