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Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infectious diseases transmitted through sexual contact. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 19 million new cases of STDs are diagnosed every year. Although nearly half of the people diagnosed are between the ages of 15 and 24, STDs affect all age groups across all socioeconomic groups.

How can you protect yourself from STDs?

The best way to prevent contracting an STD is to abstain from any type of sexual activity, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. However, if you decide to become sexually active, or are currently sexually active, there are several precautionary measures to help reduce your risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease. These include the following:

  • Have a mutually monogamous sexual relationship with an uninfected partner.
  • Use (consistently and correctly) a male latex or female polyurethane condom and topical microbicides.
  • Delay having sexual relationships as long as possible. The younger a person is when he or she begins to have sex for the first time, the more likely he or she becomes to developing an STD.
  • Have regular checkups for HIV and STDs.
  • Learn the symptoms of STDs and seek medical help as soon as possible if any symptoms develop.

Treatment for STDs

If you've been diagnosed with an STD, it is important to begin treatment immediately and take the full course of medications. Follow your health care provider's advice and consider the following precautions.

  • Do not breastfeed a baby or use breast milk to feed a baby if you are HIV positive.
  • Notify all recent sexual partners and urge them to get medical checkups.
  • Avoid sexual activity while under treatment for an STD.
  • Have a follow-up test to be sure the STD has been successfully treated.

Talk your doctor at your next routine check-up or schedule an STD screening to learn more.

Test Your Knowledge

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