STD – an acronym that many people don’t want to talk about. Sexually transmitted diseases, however, are a genuine and present danger for the sexually active, and even those who aren’t. In fact, as much as 25% of the U.S. population has an incurable STD of some sort, and in 2017 STD numbers reached an all-time high.
The reason they are called “sexually” transmitted diseases, even though they are not always transmitted that way, is because that is most frequently how a person comes in contact with them. Other ways to contract certain STDs include contact with infected bodily fluids like blood or contact with infected damp or moist objects (trichomoniasis), although these routes of exposure are rare. Practicing safe sex, in all its forms, is the best way to prevent the spread of STDs.
Different Kinds of STDs
The following are considered sexually transmitted diseases:
- HIV – 1.1 million U.S. cases
- HPV/genital warts – 79 million U.S. cases (approx. 80% of the sexually active)
- Chlamydia – 1.8 million U.S. cases, 19% increase since 2014
- Genital herpes (HSV2) – 24 million U.S. cases
- Gonorrhea – 583,405 U.S. cases, 63% increase since 2014
- Hepatitis* – 850,000 U.S. cases of Hep B
- Syphilis* – Primary/Secondary – 35,063 U.S. cases, 71% increase since 2014; Congenital – 1,306 U.S. cases, 185% increase since 2014
- Trichomoniasis* – 3.7 million U.S. cases
*Only some forms of these diseases are considered sexually transmitted.
Who Is At Risk?
Right now, half of all new STD cases are in those between the ages of 15 and 24.
Additional risk factors include:
- Having more than one sex partner
- Having sex with someone who’s had many sex partners
- Not using a condom during sex
- Men who have sex with other men
- Sharing needles when injecting intravenous drugs
- Trading sex for money or drugs
While every one of the infections listed above carries slightly different rates of transmission depending on the type of sex, it is crucial to remember that any kind of sex – vaginal, anal, and oral – all carry the risk of transmission. Do not become a victim of false information or myths that you can only contract STDs through “traditional” forms of sex, because it simply isn’t true.
You should always practice safe sex, especially when engaging with a new partner, or if there is any question about the monogamy of your current partner. No one wants to believe they’ll be infected, particularly if it’s someone they think they can trust. You should always be your own advocate and do not rely on others to come prepared or to do their due diligence.
Regular testing for STDs is an essential part of being a responsible partner and can be crucial to your own health. Unfortunately, many people are exposed to STDs and don’t show any symptoms, and then go on to spread the infection to others. By getting tested regularly, you can prevent this cycle from continuing and also catch STDs early if you have unwittingly been infected. Many STDs are treatable through the use of antibiotics.
If you have questions about STDs or would like to know more about being tested, please contact Compassionate Care for Women today.