Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The general term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is used to name any of the group of diseases that can be spread by sexual contact. There are almost 20 STDs. You most likely know someone with an STD. More teens and young adults get a sexually transmitted disease every year than any other age group. And more teens get an STD per year than get pregnant per year. In the USA the teen pregnancy rate per year is about one million, so you can see that getting an STD is really not uncommon at all. More than half of all people will have an STD/STI at some point in their lifetime according to the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

About 12 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases are reported in the United States every year. It is, however, hard to estimate these numbers since most STDs/STIs can be "silent," causing no noticeable symptoms. These asymptomatic infections can be diagnosed only through testing. Unfortunately, routine screening programs are not widespread, and social stigma and lack of public awareness concerning STDs/STIs often inhibits discussion between health care providers and patients about STD/STI risk and the need for testing.

Most STDs can be treated and cured.

STDs are spread from one person to another through sexual contact such as sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or sharing needles.

STDs must be diagnosed and treated completely. If you are sexually active you need to have regular gynecological or male genital examinations.

Pap smears do not test for STDs, but if you are getting one, then that is a good time to get tested for STDs. Don't be afraid to ask your health care provider, or to talk with them about getting tested. If you are unable to talk to your partner or parent about being tested or you're worried about your parents finding out, testing can be done without parental consent in the United States. It is considered "confidential".

Use a CONDOM every time you have sexual intercourse. Condoms used correctly can protect you from genital herpes, genital warts, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, hepatitis B, gonorrhea, chlamydia and more.


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