Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are generally acquired by sexual contact. The organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.
Know the Facts: Protect your health and prevent future STDs
False assumptions about STDs – how they’re spread, prevented, and treated– are everywhere, and it can be especially hard for people to get the facts. Because half of the estimated 20 million STDs that occur in the U.S. each year are among young people, STD Awareness Month 2015 focuses efforts on getting the correct information to this population. The month-long observance also provides an opportunity to clear up myths about STD prevention and testing.
Do you know…?
- STDs impact young people the hardest. Half of all STDs are in people under 25 years old, although they represent only a quarter of people having sex.
- The only sure way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of getting an STD by using a condom.
- You can’t tell if someone has an STD just by looking at them. Many STDs don’t cause any symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested. STD tests aren’t always part of a regular doctor visit. Many doctors may not give you an HIV or STD test unless you ask for one.
- Even if you use birth control, you should still think about STD prevention. Birth control methods like the pill, patch, ring, and IUD are very effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do not protect against STDs and HIV.
You should also know that all STDs, even HIV, are treatable, and most are curable. The sooner you know your status, the better you can protect your health and the health of your partner(s). If not treated, some STDs can lead to serious health problems. Untreated STDs, like chlamydia, although easy to cure, make it difficult for about 24,000 women each year to get pregnant, and having herpes or gonorrhea can increase your chances of getting HIV.
STD tests are quick, simple, and usually painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results from just a swab inside the mouth in as little time as 20 minutes. Not all medical checkups include STD testing. So, unless you ask to be tested, you can’t assume you have been. Ask your medical provider which STDs you should be tested for.
Talk to your partner about when you were last tested and suggest getting tested together. If you have an STD (like herpes or HPV), tell your partner. These conversations may seem hard to have, but open communication with your partner is essential to staying healthy and stopping the spread of STDs. These conversations may also bring you closer together. STD Testing is available at all Western UP Health Department office locations. Visit our STD Program page to learn more about the services available.