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D. A New Way to Test for STDs

Narrator:This is Science Today. A new screening test for sexually transmitted diseases may reach more teenagers than the traditional pelvic exam. Mary-Ann Shafer, an adolescent health specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, says this new procedure, called an amplified nucleic acid test, is a simple urine test, which detects STDs just as well as pelvic exams.

Shafer: I think that the appeal of the urine test is that in all my years of working with teenagers, you never have any trouble getting urine from them because it doesn't hurt. And they're used to it - it's a familiar thing that happens in an office setting.

Narrator: By eliminating the fear factor, Shafer hopes more teens will be tested for bacterial STDs such as chlamydia, which is most common in teenaged girls.

Shafer: We're not saying that young women shouldn't have pelvic exams for their health. We're saying that perhaps by using a urine test it's one less barrier for them coming in - especially in the beginning.

Narrator: The main goal, Shafer says, is to prevent the serious complications which may occur if these STDs go untreated. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.