CONTACT:      Cinderella Lee                     Dr. Petra Jerman                Paula Hamilton

                           Public Health Institute         Public Health Institute         Brown Miller Comm.         

                           (510) 285-5533                    (510) 352-2814                     (800) 710-9333





Hidden STD Epidemic Among California Youth

Treatment costs for new cases each year exceed $1 billion


OAKLAND, CA, October 10, 2007…Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among youth, largely unreported, are costing California more than a billion dollars a year, according to a study published in the Californian Journal of Health Promotion.

Researchers at the Public Health Institute’s (PHI) Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development concluded that the annual number of newly acquired STDs among California youth exceeded one million cases in 2005. The estimate is an astonishing 10 times higher than the actual number of cases reported that year, indicating that previously available statistics on the number of STDs in California do not provide the full picture.

"The estimated number of new cases and their associated costs illustrate that the STD epidemic among California youth remains largely hidden. This epidemic is like an iceberg — what you see is just a small part of what you have," said Dr. Petra Jerman, PHI scientist.

The researchers employed statistical estimation methods recently developed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate the number of new cases and associated medical costs of eight major STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, HPV, hepatitis B, trichomoniasis and HIV) among 15 to 24-year-olds in each of California’s 58 counties. Incidence and costs ranged from a low of 82 cases in Alpine and Sierra counties, at a cost of $38,000, to a high of 360,000 cases in Los Angeles County, at a cost of $390 million.

According to Jerman, state and county policymakers can use this new information in reassessing the adequacy of current resources to prevent STDs among California's youth.

The study, including complete charts and background material on STDs, can be found at The published article can be downloaded from the Californian Journal of Health Promotion Web site at

The Public Health Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life. The study was funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.