During a 1-year period from July 1983 to June 1984, 285 adolescent girls and 2,236 adolescent boys, ranging in age from 9 to 18 years (89% were 14 to 16 years of age), were screened for gonorrhea and syphilis on entry into a detention facility in New York City. The prevalence rate for gonorrhea was 3% for boys and 18.3% for girls, and the prevalence rate for syphilis was 0.63% for boys and 2.5% for girls. The rates of gonorrhea without penile or cervical discharge on physical examination were 2.1% for boys and 10.9% for girls. This high prevalence of syphilis and gonorrhea and the high frequency of disease without physical signs of illness indicate the desirability of screening high-risk adolescents for these and other sexually transmitted diseases. Our data support the need for programs in detention facilities and, we believe, schools, to encourage use of barrier contraceptives to control gonorrhea, syphilis, Chiamydia, human papillomavirus, human immunodeficiency virus, and unwanted pregnancy.

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