Please join Human Services Center Corporation in honoring National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 9 at 5:00PM via Zoom. We will discuss women’s sexual health, women and HIV, and healthy living with HIV. RSVP here. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com or 412-436-9537.
2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S.
While the eyes of the nation are on the coronavirus pandemic, another threat to public health has been steadily growing in the United States. We’ve been battling rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) for the last several years. In fact, 2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S., due in part to significant funding cuts to more than 50% of the nation’s public health STI programs. And now the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an even greater burden on our strained public health system and supply chains, shifting focus from one major public health issue to another.
We can’t risk losing one critical resource that will be essential to ending the STI epidemic — the availability of free and confidential STI testing for adolescents. Prior to the pandemic, national public health efforts were scaling up to improve STI and HIV testing, and quickly link youth to prevention services. Rapid identification and treatment of STIs not only has public health benefits in terms of lowering transmission, but when left untreated, STIs increase the risk of infertility, severe pelvic infection, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and HIV transmission.
While accounting for 25% of the population, adolescents and young adults comprise over 50% of STIs in the U.S. each year. Black, Latinx, and LGBT youth face the greatest burden of infections and risk of complications. Fortunately, significant advances have been made over the last several decades to improve rates of STI and HIV testing among adolescents and young adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends HIV screening by the age of 16-18 years for all youth regardless of their sexual activity.
Compared with their cisgender peers, gender-diverse teens are more likely to report sexual behaviors that put them at risk for HIV and other sexual health concerns, including the use of drugs or alcohol prior to sex, MedPage Today reports.
Brianna S. McMichael, MSN, MPH, of Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis, conducted a survey of 411 teenagers who came into two emergency departments in the Midwestern city. She presented findings from the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics virtual meeting.
The study recruited young people 12 to 18 years old and provided them with an iPad on which to complete a survey while their parents stepped out of the room. Young people who came to the emergency department for mental health reasons or who were considered at risk for suicide were excluded.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer…
Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are increasing among women ages 18 to 30 in the United States, a recent study by Quest Diagnostics suggests.
The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed more than 17 million laboratory samples taken between 2010 and 2017 from females ages 12 to 30. Researchers found that while there was a decline in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea among adolescents ages 12 to 17, women of ages 25 to 30 experienced a 50% increase in positive test results. Women 18 to 24 had a 21% increase in positive test results over the period of the study.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active women under 25, said Harvey Kaufman, director of Quest’s Health Trends Research Program. For women 25 and older, the CDC recommends screenings only for those with specific risk factors, such as reporting that their sex partner may have a concurrent sex partner. Kaufman, a co-author of the study, said the findings suggest that sexual and contraceptive practices have changed since 2002, when the CDC guidelines were first published.
Kaufman pointed out that the CDC guidelines were largely influenced by a 1998 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the overall rate of chlamydia among female Army recruits was 9.2%. As a result, the authors of the study recommended a screening program for female recruits 25 and under.
When Laura Mae, 27, first head about the coronavirus, it didn’t seem like a big deal.
“I’m in college, and school was still going on. It didn’t really sink in,” she said. “And once it did start spreading, I thought, if I did get it, I’m young and healthy, I’ll be fine. I don’t need to worry.”
It was Saturday, March 14, and concerns about the coronavirus were amping up around the nation, said Laura Mae, who lives in Milwaukee. (Kaiser Health News is using Laura Mae’s first and middle names to grant her request for partial anonymity due to concern about online harassment.)
She realized it might be the last weekend to go out before everything shut down. Plus, her spring break had just started. So she and a friend decided to party that night.
And she wasn’t the only one.
As college and university spring breaks across the country converged that weekend, news coverage showed young people frolicking on Miami beaches, walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans and crowding music clubs in Nashville, Tennessee. And to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, many cities, such as New York, Washington, Chicago and Austin, Texas, saw throngs of people dressed in green and lining up for beer. There wasn’t a lot of social distance to be seen.
Part of the reason these young adults might have felt comfortable going to spots with large crowds was that media reports, buttressed by data from China’s outbreak, indicated younger people were not as susceptible to the coronavirus as older age groups or people with underlying conditions. But, that hasn’t held true. Now, in several major American cities, young adults between 18 and 40 account for some of the largest shares among groups testing positive.
As of Thursday, in New York City, 39 percent of cases were among those ages 18 to 44. Out of Los Angeles County’s 7,194 confirmed cases, 2,409, or 33 percent, were in the 18-40 age range. Nearly half of those testing positive in Travis County, Texas, which encompasses much of the Austin metro area, were between 20 and 39. Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, released numbers Wednesday showing that 40 percent of the district’s cases were ages 19-40.
Among young people living with HIV, having a detectable viral load is associated with a slight increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sitaji Gurung, MD, PhD, MPH, of Hunter College at the City University of New York, presented findings from a study of HIV-positive youth 14 to 26 years old at the 2020 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston last month.
The study relied on electronic health records from the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network 154 Cascade Monitoring, which derives its data from clinics across the United States that care for adolescents with HIV.
From Seattle & King County’s Public Health Insider…
Sex positivity is in, sex shaming is out. More people are comfortable talking about what it means to have a healthy sexual relationship, and that’s a good thing. But there’s one thing that many of us still feel awkward or downright avoid talking about: sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You may know them as sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, which is the term doctors use when an STI has symptoms. (We’ll be using the term STI throughout this article because it’s broader.)
This omission can lead some people to assume there’s no real risk, says Dr. Lindley Barbee, an infectious disease specialist and medical director for the Public Health Seattle & King County Sexual Health Clinic at Harborview Medical Center.
Unfortunately, the risk is very real. Consider this the STI 101 class you probably never got in high school.
School health programs can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that can reduce their risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2017:
- 40% had ever had sexual intercourse.
- 10% had four or more sexual partners.
- 7% had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.
- 30% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these 46% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
- 14% did not use any method to prevent pregnancy.
- 19% had drunk alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse.
- Less than 10% of all students have ever been tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
According to the CDC, prevention programs in schools should provide health information that is basic, accurate, and directly contributes to health-promoting decisions and behaviors.
New research shows that young people living with HIV suffer fewer virus-related symptoms when they’re able to map out their own long-term health goals. Data also found that when this type of planning, referred to as end-of-life care, isn’t mapped out by the youth or a family member, young people living with HIV are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, evaluated 105 mostly black adolescents (93 percent African-Americans) aged 14 to 21 and their families who received care from six U.S. hospital-based HIV clinics between July 2011 and June 2014. One-third of the family participants were also poz themselves.
Lead investigator Maureen E. Lyon, a clinical health psychologist at Children’s National Health System at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., tested an intervention known as Family Centered pediatric Advance Care Planning (FACE pACP). In one-hour sessions, one group of youths and their families went through advance care planning, while another group received traditional assessments.
The advanced care sessions involved discussions assessing the youths’ values, beliefs, and life experiences while determining when to begin end-of-life discussions. They also involved decision-making, discussions of death and dying, preparing guardians to respect youths’ wishes, and providing directives to be followed in case the youths are unable to speak for themselves.
After a year of evaluations, the investigators found almost 75 percent of the advanced care planning participants reported having fewer disease related symptoms, compared to 27 percent reporting a high level of symptoms.
Going for an STD test can be a daunting experience, especially for a young person. There’s still such a taboo around sex generally — and STDs specifically — that it’s far too easy to avoid going, even when you know you should. But it turns out that this avoidance can have some major health consequences. A study conducted by Quest Diagnostics looked at 3,414 young women between the ages of 15-24 and found that, despite the fact that 56 percent of those surveyed were sexually active, far too few of them were having STD tests.