Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

What is an STD?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infectious diseases spread through sexual contact. These infections are very common, especially among young people. The U.S. has some of the highest rates of STDs in the industrialized world.

Anyone who has sex can get an STD, but young people are particularly affected. Two-thirds of STDs occur in people under 25, mostly because young people are more likely to be sexually active. In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four girls between the ages 14 and 19 were determined to have at least one of four sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Human Papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus and trichomoniasis.

The rates of STDs are on the rise, possibly because of higher rates of sexual activity with multiple sex partners. Many STDs such as AIDS, herpes and syphilis, can be passed on from mother to the baby at birth. STDs can also cause low birth weight and premature babies. Babies with infected mothers can have problems such as pneumonia, eye infections and brain damage.

How we care for STDs

The prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases is a top priority at Boston Children's Hospital. There are many different types of STDs with varying symptoms and severities, and Boston Children's has different programs that provide young people and parents with the testing, treatment and counseling they need.

At the Division of Gynecology and the Adolescent Medicine Clinic, we encourage parents to talk to their children about sex before they become teenagers or decide to have sex.