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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(3):422

CDC Releases Survey Results on STD Counseling in Adolescents

In 2000, persons 15 to 24 years of age represented 48 percent of the 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), despite being only one quarter of the sexually active population. The most common sexually transmitted infection in persons younger than 24 years is human papillomavirus (HPV). To assess the risk of STDs and the education and counseling practices of health care professionals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed physicians who care for adolescents. The results appear in the October 20, 2006, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The survey results found that 95 percent of health care professionals thought monogamy or limiting the number of sex partners was effective in preventing the spread of HPV, and 81 percent thought these practices were worth recommending to patients. Although 91 percent of respondents considered abstinence to be highly effective, only 45 percent said they would recommend it. Family physicians and other physicians who treat adolescents were more likely to recommend abstinence compared with other health care professionals.

Although 89 percent of those surveyed said that consistent and correct condom use would be worthwhile to recommend to their patients, only 78 percent felt that correct condom use was an effective prevention. Another 23 percent of health care professionals expected consistent condom use to be adopted for long-term use by patients, compared with 21 percent for monogamy and limiting sex partners, and 6 percent for abstinence.

Among health care professionals who treat mostly adolescents, 97 percent said they always or usually remind patients to use condoms for STD prevention; 62 percent recommend monogamy or limiting the number of sex partners; and 51 percent recommend abstinence. Ninety-three percent said they routinely provide STD-prevention education to their patients, and another 69 percent said they routinely provide education about genital HPV infection to their adult or adolescent patients who they think are sexually active.

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Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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