STIs in Young Teenagers

In the past we have written about the increased amount of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among individuals who were over the age of 60. Now this trend appears to be affecting another age group on the other end of the spectrum that may come as a surprise to most individuals.

A recent study that was presented at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Darwin, has found that the largest increases of STIs were among children under the age of 16. The majority of this population (10 300 individuals) included girls under the age of 16, but there were also a few positive tests of girls as young as 12. The study was based on secondary data analysis of 286 000 tests on individuals between the ages of 12-24 between 2008 and 2010. Although the lead researcher suggested the results may have indicated that young children were vulnerable to STIs, she also maintained that the study was not comparable to a general screening. As such, the results were not automatically applicable to draw any conclusions about the infection rate of the general population.

Without having read the publication (as it is yet to be published) we can understand the reasoning behind the conclusions. While it seems clear that this population may need more attention both in the community and in research, it is not clear what would lead to these results. As the lead researcher hinted at the fact that many of the tests were performed because of specific concerns from health workers it is worth asking whether this study served to support policies being developed to target consensual sexual activity among young individuals or whether it is a case of establishing ways of identifying individuals at risk of sexual abuse.

Nevertheless, the study clearly reflects that sexual activity and its risks are taken seriously in all age groups. It is our hope that the results from this presentation inspire future research that considers a multitude of factors that may play a role in preventing STIs among young individuals.

For general information on sexually tranmitted infections, we recommend this website - http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Sexandyoungpeople/Pages/STIs.aspx