Did you get them all right?
The CDC recommends that everyone who is sexually active be tested on a routine basis. This means annually (every year) for those who are sexually active. Or, every 3-6 months for those who have multiple partners and other higher risk factors.
But, because of limitations based on their age and point in their life, those who are 15-24 years old (Gen Z) are tested much less frequently than the recommendations. At only 12%, it makes sense that over 50% of all STI infections impact those in that age range.
So, why aren’t Gen Zers seeking STI testing?
First, those in that age range often feel they don’t have access to sexual health care. Being on their parent’s health insurance, they may not feel confident talking about these needs with their parents or pediatrician. (We often see teens open up about their fears and health needs to their parents. And, often parents’ reactions are much less severe than what the teen imagined. Parents want what is best for their kids!)
Second, biology is still developing making teens more susceptible to STIs. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for cause-and-effect decision-making, is still developing leading to impulsive, unplanned encounters.
Also, the cervix in young women, isn’t fully developed, leaving her less protected than she would be if she delays sexual initiation.
Finally, Zoomers just might not know about the recommendation for routine screening. This is the generation consuming the most media (movies, songs, tv shows) in history. Yet, rarely do storylines emphasize sexual risk avoidance, even while depicting sexual relationships that could lead to the spread of STIs.
So what’s the bottom line?
Connect Medical Clinic sees people who are 14+ years old because that’s the law in the state of ND. The visit is safe and confidential. We do not file with insurance but have low- and no-cost services to help people in our community make informed choices about their sexual health.
If you or someone you know is sexually active and has not been screened for STIs, please reach out to Connect at connectmedicalclinic.com.