OBJECTIVES: To determine the proportion of sexually experienced African American adolescents who report having been screened for sexually transmitted diseases and to determine the proportion who report having been screened for these diseases among adolescents who have had a preventive primary health care visit in the past 2 years. METHODS: A telephone survey of a population-based sample of African American adolescents aged 12 to 17 years residing in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco with a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. RESULTS: Of the 302 adolescents surveyed, 118 (39.1%) reported a history of sexual intercourse. Of these, 17 (26. 2%) of 65 males and 31 (58.5%) of 53 females had been screened for a sexually transmitted disease in the previous 12 months. Twenty (30. 8%) of the males and 32 (60.4%) of the females had been screened for a sexually transmitted disease in the previous 24 months. Of the 93 participants who had a preventive primary care visit since their first episode of sexual intercourse, 14 (26.4%) of the 53 males and 24 (60.0%) of the 40 females had been screened for a sexually transmitted disease in the previous 24 months. CONCLUSIONS: Sexually experienced African American adolescents in San Francisco are being screened for sexually transmitted diseases at rates well below those recommended by current clinical guidelines. A low rate of screening was found even in adolescents who had been seen for a preventive primary care visit since they had first had sex. This suggests that the preventive primary care visit is not being used to its full potential as an opportunity to screen and treat adolescents for sexually transmitted diseases. Capitalizing on this opportunity to screen may increase the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed and, thus, decrease rates of these diseases in this population.
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