Are adolescents being screened for sexually transmitted diseases? A study of low income African American adolescents in San Francisco
- 1Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
- 2Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
- 3Department of Public Health, City and County of San Francisco, CA, USA
- Jonathan Ellen, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Park 307, 600 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287-2530, USA email:
- Accepted 11 January 2000
Objectives: To determine the proportion of sexually experienced African American adolescents who report having been screened for sexually transmitted diseased (STDs), and to determine the proportion who report having been screened for STDs among those adolescents who have had a preventive primary healthcare visit in the past 2 years.
Methods: A telephone survey of a population based sample of African American 12–17 year old adolescents residing in a low income San Francisco neighbourhood with a high prevalence of STDs.
Results: Of the 302 adolescents surveyed, 118 (39%) reported a history of sexual intercourse. Of these, 26% of the males and 59% of the females had been screened for an STD in the previous 12 months. 31% of the males and 63% of the females had been screened for an STD in the previous 24 months. Of the 93 participants who had had a preventive primary care visit since their first episode of sexual intercourse, 26% of the males and 60% of the females had been screened for an STD in the previous 24 months.
Conclusions: Sexually experienced African American adolescents in San Francisco are being screened for STDs at rates well below that recommended by current clinical guidelines. A low rate of screening was found even in those adolescents who had been seen for a preventive primary care visit since they first had sex. This suggests that the preventive primary care visit is not being used to its full potential as an opportunity to screen and treat adolescents for STDs. Capitalising on this opportunity to screen may increase the number of STDs diagnosed and, thus, decrease rates of STDs in this population.