Young people who have a sexually transmitted infection

Export Indicator

The proportion of young people with STIs that were detected during diagnostic testing
What it measures

In countries where the prevalence of HIV infection is low, this indicator measures the likelihood of its potential spread. Also, STI prevalence provides a way of monitoring the levels of risky sexual behaviour.


The number of diagnostic tests carried out for persons aged 15−24 years confirming the existence of an STI. NOTE: The type or types of STI taken into account should depend on what is locally important. If more than one type of STI is considered the results should be given for each separately, as well as aggregated total.


The total number of persons aged 15−24 years who had diagnostic tests for STIs.

Method of measurement

The prevalence of an STI must be determined from laboratory diagnoses of infection, because many STIs are asymptomatic (and will be detected only by laboratory testing) and many have similar symptoms (making an accurate clinical diagnosis difficult). In many countries the availability of suitable laboratory facilities is limited, restricting the sources of data for this indicator. Data for this indicator should not be collected from patients attending STI clinics or from persons for whom a test is being carried out because they have STI symptoms. The reason for this is that these people constitute a very highly selected group in which the prevalence of infection does not provide information on the prevalence of infection among young people in the general population. STI testing within a population based survey, however, is complex and expensive. To detect infection, either samples of genital tract secretions or urine, or blood, must be obtained and samples must be transported under appropriate conditions to a laboratory for testing. These difficulties are a hindrance but have been successfully overcome in multiple household surveys.
This indicator should be given as separate percentages for males and females in the age groups 15–19, 20–24 and 15–24 years.
Non-response rates should be considered before reporting the results of these surveys.

Measurement frequency

Age group: 15 years - 19 years, 15 years - 24 years, 20 years - 24 years

Education: N/A

Gender: Male, Female

Geographic location: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

While screening for STIs during a general population based survey is expensive and complicated, general population based surveys have the advantage of reduced participation and selection bias and, if properly conducted, give the best information on prevalence of infection among the general population. These studies can also be augmented by additional studies among specific populations of interest, e.g., injection drug users.

Further information

For further information, see Guidelines for STI surveillance, section on prevalence assessment and monitoring (WHO/CHS/HIS/99.2 UNAIDS/99.33E).