Addressing Sexually Transmitted Infections in Pediatrics

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Adolescents and young adults face a number of sexual and reproductive health needs that often go unmet. Youth ages 15–24 account for more than half of newly acquired sexually transmitted infections (STIs) each year in the United States. Many youth are unaware that they have a STI or other sexual or reproductive health condition; for example, only about half of HIV-infected adolescents are aware of their status. Another unmet adolescent sexual and reproductive health need relates to pregnancy; nearly 230,000 babies were born to teen mothers ages 15–19 in 20173 with three-quarters of teen pregnancies in 2011 being unintended.

Even though it is widely known that many youth struggle with sexual health challenges, pediatric practices don’t always adequately support the sexual health needs of their patients due to a number of factors. In this Research at a Glance brief, Drs. Cynthia Mollen and Nadia Dowshen explain two different PolicyLab and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia studies that provide insight into the reality of screening for sexual health conditions in pediatric practices and one way we may be able to address some of the challenges to screening.


Mollen C, Dowshen N