Racial Disparities in STIs Among Adolescents in the USA

  • Jessica M. SalesEmail author
  • Anna Newton-Levinson
  • Andrea L. Swartzendruber


Adolescents, particularly females, young people of color, and those with lower socioeconomic status (SES), are disproportionately affected by sexual transmitted infections (STIs) in the USA. Gender and socioeconomic disparities in STIs are often more easily explained, but several alternative hypotheses have been posited in attempt to explain racial disparities in STIs in the USA. In this chapter, we will present five prominent hypotheses including (1) differences in sexual risk behaviors, (2) differences in STI risk among sexual networks, (3) SES-related inequities disproportionately experienced by minorities that reduce access/care, (4) SES/racial inequities that indirectly increase STIs through a psychosocial/behavioral mechanism, and (5) SES/racial inequities that directly increase STI susceptibility through biological stress regulatory systems. We conclude with considerations for healthcare providers in the context of sexual health services for racial minority adolescents including STI testing and treatment.


Adolescence Racial disparities STIs Risk factors Socioeconomic status Sexual behavior 



The first author was supported in part by P30DA027827and through the Emory Center for AIDS Research (P30 AI050409). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica M. Sales
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna Newton-Levinson
    • 1
  • Andrea L. Swartzendruber
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public HealthUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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