More than one in four teenage girls is infected with common sexually transmitted diseases, federal researchers reported Tuesday. Almost half of black...

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — More than one in four teenage girls is infected with common sexually transmitted diseases, federal researchers reported Tuesday. Almost half of black teens were infected.

Young women ages 14 to 19 in “alarming” numbers are contracting human papilloma virus, chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite, said Dr. Sara Forhan, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the study team.

An estimated 3.2 million have one or more of those four sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs.

The two most common diseases were HPV, at 18 percent, and chlamydia, at 4 percent, according to the analysis, part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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Among the infected women, 15 percent had more than one sexually transmitted disease.

Women may be unaware that they are infected. But the diseases, which are infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, can produce acute symptoms and lead to such long-term ailments as infertility and cancer.

STD rates were higher among black female teens, with 48 percent infected compared to 20 percent of white and Mexican teens, the study showed.

CDC officials blamed the disparity partially on a lack of access to health care and education, but said the main reason is that STDs are more prevalent in the black community, making each sexual encounter more risky.

The four STDs are not considered as serious as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea and syphilis, which were not tracked in the study. But all can damage the body if left untreated. HPV can cause cervical cancer, the bacterial infection chlamydia can lead to abnormal pregnancies, and genital herpes viruses and the parasite trichomoniasis can make it easier to contract HIV/AIDS.

The study showed that about half of teens reported being sexually active and about 40 percent of those were infected.

Information from The New York Times is included in this report.