Facts About STDs Everyone Needs to Know
"The first step in protection is education. Know before you go!"
Sexually transmitted diseases (also called STDs, or STIs for sexually transmitted infections) are infections that can be transferred from one person to another through sexual contact.
Everyone, young or old, rich or poor, sexually active or not, needs to know a few important facts about sexually transmitted diseases.
1What are STD?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are infections that are passed from person to person through sexual contact, including:
Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by different infectious microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites, which are transmitted through semen, vaginal fluid, blood or other body fluids during sexual activity.
2There is no immunity to STD
If you get an STD once, you can get it again. Moreover, you can have more than one STD at a time. Hepatitis B is the only STD for which a licensed vaccine is available.
3The incidence of STD's is rising
Even with all the education and resources available today, sadly, the number of cases of STDs continues to rise dramatically worldwide.
This is happening in part because in the last few decades young people have become sexually active earlier yet are marrying later. In addition, divorce is more common. The net result is that sexually active people are more likely to have multiple sex partners and are more likely to acquire STD's.
4Half of all STDs occur in people younger than age 25
Although teens and young adults represent only 25% of the sexually active population, 15Ė24-year-olds account for nearly half of all STI diagnoses each year. Adolescents are more concerned about unwanted pregnancy than with contracting an STD.
5"No symptoms" does not mean "no STD"
Most STDs can be "silent," causing no noticeable symptoms. These asymptomatic infections can be diagnosed only through testing. So you can be infected and infect someone else without knowing it.
This is especially true in women. If symptoms develop, they may be confused with those of other diseases not transmitted through sexual contact. In fact, about 70% of chlamydial infections in women, and 50% in men are without acute symptoms.
6There is currently no cure for STDs caused by viruses
Viral STDs (such as genital warts, herpes, hepatitis B) can not be cured, but their symptoms can be treated. There is no way to get any of these viruses out of a person's body once he or she has become infected.
7Bacterial STDs are curable
Bacterial STDs, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, are cured with antibiotics.
8Women are more likely to have serious health problems from STDs
Health problems caused by STD's tend to be more severe and more frequent for women than for men. This is because of the increased frequency of asymptomatic infections. As a result many women do not seek care until serious problems develop.
9Consequences of STDs
It is quite true that most sexually transmitted infections can be completely cured if they are caught at an early stage. However, if left untreated, STIs can pose a long-term risk to your health and fertility. And the sad fact is that certain STDs are eventually fatal.
While each STD causes different health problems, overall, they can cause:
10Certain STDs can be transmitted through Non-Sexual contact
Usually direct sexual contact, such as vaginal, oral or anal sex, is required to transmit the infection. However, some STDs can be passed in non-sexual ways, either with body-to-body contact or surface-to-body contact:
Babies can contract many different STDs at birth from their infected mothers.
11Condoms are very effective, but don't offer 100% protection from STD
Remember, although condoms can help reduce your exposure to STDs, they are not foolproof. Condoms will not protect you from some STDs, because the condom may not cover the infected area. Examples of some infections that can be transmitted despite religious condom use are:
But because condoms cannot protect against every form of STI, it is important to limit the number of sexual partners you have, and to be tested for STIs on a regular basis.
12Retest for certainty
The only way to know if the sexually transmitted disease is no longer present is to follow-up with your doctor for retesting and examination. Follow-up is extremely important because a person may have a resistant strain of the infection and could still have the infection despite it being adequately treated.
13Signs and symptoms related to STD
You may have an STD if you have any of the following symptoms:
14STD disparities: rates tend to be higher among African Americans
Although STDs are widespread across racial and ethnic groups, the rates tend to be higher among African Americans than white Americans.
Blacks remain the group most heavily affected by gonorrhea. In 2004, the gonorrhea rate among blacks was 19 times the rate among whites.
The rate of chlamydia among black women was nearly eight times the rate among white women. The rate among black men was more than 11 times that of white men1.
15Behaviors and conditions that can increase the risk for STDs
The following behaviors and conditions can increase the risk for STDs:
16Non-STI infections that may be transmitted via sexual contact
Some bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are usually transmitted nonsexually can sometimes be transmitted during sex:
17The most reliable way to avoid getting an STD is to not have sex
Obviously, abstinence (not having oral, vaginal, or anal sex) is the best way to prevent STDs. This is OK for some, but not realistic for most people.
Failing that, the next surest way to is to limit the sexual relationship to a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and does not have an STI.
And the third way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases is to use condoms consistently and correctly.