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J Adolesc Health. 2016 May;58(5):512-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.01.002. Epub 2016 Mar 15.

Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States.

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Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Electronic address:
Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.



Persons aged 15-25 years have high sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates and suboptimal screening. There has been limited research analyzing barriers to STI testing at a national level. We examined STI testing among 15-25 year olds and reasons for not testing.


We used data from a national survey of youth. Bivariate and multivariable analyses examined differences in testing behaviors by demographics, separately by sex. Among sexually experienced respondents who reported never being tested, health system-related reasons for not testing were examined in bivariate and multivariable analyses.


Females (16.6%) were more likely to have ever been tested compared with males (6.1%, p < .01) in the last 12 months. Among sexually experienced respondents who were never tested, 41.8% did not seek testing because they felt they were not at risk for STIs. Males (60.1%) had significantly higher reports of foregoing testing for confidentiality reasons compared with females (39.9%, p < .01). Non-Hispanic whites (44.9%) the highest reports of this compared with other ethnic/racial groups (p < .01).


This national-level study found that most of the 15-25 year olds never received an STI test. In addition, confidentiality concerns may deter youth from seeking STI testing. Appropriate strategies to minimize these concerns may be useful. Potential strategies to ameliorate these issues may include engaging clinicians who frequently serve adolescents and young adults to address confidentiality issues with youth patients.


Adolescent; Barriers to care; Confidentiality; Health insurance; Patient–doctor interaction; STIs; Testing behaviors

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