gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

Knowledge and Awareness of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) among school-attending Adolescents in Europe: A review of published literature

Meeting Abstract

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  • Florence Samkange-Zeeb - Bremer Institut für Präventionsforschung und Sozialmedizin (BIPS), Bremen
  • Lena Spallek - Bremer Institut für Präventionsforschung und Sozialmedizin (BIPS), Bremen

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds304

doi: 10.3205/11gmds304, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds3047

Veröffentlicht: 20. September 2011

© 2011 Samkange-Zeeb et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Background: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major health problem affecting mostly young people, not only in developing, but also in developed countries.

From the mid-1990s increases in the diagnoses of syphilis, gonorrhoea and Chlamydia have been reported in several European countries affecting mostly 15-35 year old women. The declining age of first sexual intercourse has been proffered as one possible explanation for the increase in numbers of STDs.

We conducted this review to determine what European male and female adolescents of school-going age know about STDs and if possible, how they rate their risk of contracting an STD. Results of this review can help point out areas where more effort needs to be invested in order to inform and educate adolescents concerning STDs.

Methods: Using various combinations of the terms “STD”, “HIV”, “HPV”, “Chlamydia”, “Syphilis”, “Gonorrhoea”, “herpes”, “hepatitis B”, “knowledge”, “awareness”, and “adolescents”, we searched for literature published in PubMed from 01.01.1990 up to 31.12.2010. Studies were selected if they met predefined inclusion criteria. Reference lists of selected publications were perused for further publications of interest. Information from included studies was systematically extracted and evaluated.

Results: Overall, the search resulted in 25 hits, 10 of which were selected for the review. Four further studies were obtained through perusal of the reference lists of selected publications. All studies were cross-sectional surveys conducted among school-attending adolescents aged 13 to 20 years. Generally, knowledge and awareness varied among the adolescents depending on age, sex and school year.

Six of the studies reviewed focused on HIV/AIDS only, four on STDs in general, one on STDs in general with focus on HPV, and three on HPV only. Knowledge and awareness rates were generally high for HIV/AIDS and low for HPV. Although awareness that use of condoms helps protect against contracting an STD, some adolescents regard condoms primarily as an interim method of contraception before using the pill.

Discussion: This review revealed that HIV/AIDS is the most known STD among adolescents. Awareness/knowledge of other infections such as Chlamydia and herpes is generally low.

Whereas earlier surveys on knowledge and awareness among adolescents focused on HIV/AIDS, more recent ones focus on HPV.

Conclusion: Education of adolescents is important for STD prevention and the school setting plays an important role. Attention should be paid to other infections such as Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.


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