The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that approximately one-fourth of new HIV infections in the United States are among youth between the ages of 13 and 24. More than 1,000 young adults are diagnosed with an STD every month; this is major health concern!
You can’t tell if someone has an STD, HIV, or AIDS just by looking at them. Some people themselves may not even know they have one, that’s why it’s important to know a few, quick facts about STDs.
April is STD Awareness month and we are raising awareness so you, your friends, colleagues, and relatives can learn about protecting yourselves.
An STD is a sexually transmitted disease that is passed on through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Some common STDs include chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Unprotected sexual intercourse can also lead to bacterial vaginosis, which is not an STD, but a vaginal infection that can certainly increase the chances of getting one.
STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with medication; however, others such as herpes and HIV can only be treated. STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV are spread through sexual fluids such as semen or fluids from the vagina, as well as blood and breast milk. Whereas, HIV and hepatitis B is spread through blood; genital herpes, HPV, and syphilis are spread through genital skin-to-skin contact.
What can you do to prevent spreading or getting an STD?
Don’t have sex. Just don’t do it. But if you have to, make sure to use a condom, correctly. Every single time. If you’re going to get a tattoo or a piercing, make sure all equipment is sterilized. Do not share needles or syringes when taking drugs and medicine. Be cautious when using alcohol and drugs together. They can reduce your ability to make rational decisions and could result in unprotected sex - birth control does not protect you from STDs. Having one sexual partner can also decrease your chances of getting an STD, and it’s also very important to talk to your partner about your past.
It’s crucial to get tested; you’re not only taking the steps to protect yourself, but your partner as well. It takes less than an hour to get tested. Some clinics offer no or low cost services; find a clinic in your area.
To help spread awareness, organizations like Advocates for Youth lead an annual observance to help educate the public. April 10th is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. Find out how you can join other young people around the nation as they lead efforts to end the AIDS epidemic.
We need to end this outbreak. Do your part by getting tested today. The National Women’s Health Network is a strong advocate of women having and owning their voice. So don’t stop with just you, spread the importance of getting tested with everyone you know. Take action today!
Prisca Maldonado was a NWHN Intern in Spring 2015.
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