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Teenage syphilis and gonorrhea: alarming increases.


AIDS and other relatively new sexually transmitted diseases continue to make news headlines. Unfortunately, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea and the old-timer syphilis appear to be on the upswing as well, particularly among urban teenage girls and blacks. Dr. Janie Cox reports that more young women than men are being treated for syphilis at the Children's Hospital National Medical Center VD clinic in Washington, D.C. Between 1985 and 1988, 76 percent of the syphilis cases seen at the hospital were female.

Another group of physicians at the same hospital reported that over a period of six months approximately 280 cases of gonorrhea were diagnosed among 2,000 patients in whom cultures for the Neisseria gonorrhoeae organism were taken. One-fourth of these cases were resistant to antibiotic therapy. Across the country in San Francisco, physicians report a 44 percent increase in cases of gonorrhea between 1986 and 1988 in black teenagers. Although exact figures were not specified, Bay Area health officials indicate that the number of gonorrhea cases is 10 times greater among blacks than whites. Crack, the cocaine derivative, has been implicated in these sexually transmitted diseases. Teenage girls apparently use sexual favors to barter for the drug.

The danger inherent in this situation is not only associated with the acquisition of syphilis and gonorrhea (and their own dangerous consequences), but also with the spread of the deadly AIDS virus, as well as such other relatively new sexually transmitted diseases as the human papillomavirus (HPV). This consideration causes some medical experts to urge that screening tests be performed on all sexually active adolescents.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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