Teenagers are increasingly unruly when it comes to safe sex. The statistics speak loud and clear and tell of an increase in the percentage of under-25 year olds who contract a sexual infection at least once in their lives. One in 20 young people in the world contracts at least one infection per year. One girl in 10 in Italy has contracted chlamydia at least once without realizing it, while the number of very young people suffering from condylomata, herpes and vaginitis and other types of infections that are transmitted sexually rises. We talk about this issue with Dr. Domenico Vitobello, a gynecologist from Humanitas.
The numbers of an increasingly neglected sexual health
Having unprotected sex with a significant number of partners increases the risk of infection, infertility, cancer and HIV among young people. Out of at least 340 million new cases per year, one third are among boys and girls under 25 years of age. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one in 20 adolescents contracts at least one infection every year. According to the Sexually Transmitted Infections Surveillance System (STI) coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Italy, from 1991 to 2013 there were 103 thousand new cases and reports increased particularly from 2005 to 2013, an increase of more than 31% compared to the previous period. Among the most common diseases are anogenital condylomata (small warts that are localized to the genitals), syphilis, cervical-bacterial vaginitis and genital herpes.
The problem probably lies in young people’s lack of knowledge and information about these important issues.
Human Papilloma Virus Infection
The human papilloma virus (HPV) causes Condylomata; HPV is an infection for which twelve-year-old girls are now vaccinated because it can lead to cervical carcinoma in women and anal carcinoma in homosexual men.
Infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is very frequent especially in young people. It is estimated that about 80% of the sexually active population contracts it at least once in their lives.
It is transmitted mainly through sexual intercourse, but a simple contact in the genital area may be sufficient to contract the infection.
In nature there are more than 120 different types, some are responsible for benign lesions (such as condylomata), others produce instead, lesions that can evolve into cancer.
To date there are no treatments and for this reason research has focused on the identification of a vaccine to protect against infection of the two strains of the highest oncogenic risk, launching free vaccination campaigns for girls aged 12 years.
The other sexually transmitted diseases can also have serious health consequences: the chlamydia virus, for example, can go back into the female genital apparatus and can even damage the reproductive system. According to data provided by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Italy, one in ten girls under the age of 25 suffers from chlamydia without being aware of it. The infection, which over time reduces sterility because it causes the closure of the tubes, is also widespread among men. If neglected, many of these infections also become a facilitated route of passage for the HIV virus, increasing the risk of infection exponentially. Transmission of sexual infections is only prevented by always wearing a condom, which should always be used in all occasional sexual intercourse.
A toll-free number to contact
If you suspect that you have been infected or have any doubts about your HIV infection and sexually transmitted infections, you can contact the experts for Green Telephone AIDS and IST 800 861 061. The service is anonymous and free of charge and is active from Monday to Friday, from 13.00 to 18.00 and by calling the number you can also speak with a legal advisor. In all cases of sexual infection, it is important to consult your doctor or specialist for a thorough medical examination to avoid complications.