MONDAY, April 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — About one-fifth of sexually active high school students report sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing in the previous year, according to a study published online April 11 in Pediatrics.

Nicole Liddon, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues reported weighted prevalence estimates of STI testing (other than HIV) in the previous 12 months among 2,501 sexually active high school students. The associations between testing and sexual behaviors were examined in multivariable models stratified by sex and adjusted for demographics.

The researchers found that 20.4 percent of sexually active high school students reported STI testing in the previous year. Testing was reported by a significantly higher proportion of female than male students (26.1 versus 13.7 percent). Prevalence differed by age among female students (12.6, 22.8, 28.5, and 36.9 percent for those aged 15 years and younger, 16 years, 17 years, and 18 years or older, respectively). No differences were seen by demographic characteristics, including sexual identity, for male students, but most sexual risk behaviors were associated with an elevated likelihood of STI testing (adjusted prevalence ratio range, 1.48 to 2.47).

“Liddon et al demonstrate that providers need to better serve their adolescent patients by increasing rates of STI screening, but they go on to caution that opt-out testing does not obviate the need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “With a little practice, respect, and intention, a caring provider can take the awkward out of discussing sexual health but must not opt out of the conversation.”

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