The general term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is applied to any of the group of diseases that can be spread by sexual contact. This is sometimes called STI. The group includes conditions that used to be called venereal diseases (VD), named after Venus, the goddess of love.
We're sure you have heard about sexually transmitted diseases in one way or another -- at school, in the news, on TV, in magazine, from friends, and in public service announcements. It is common to see ads about how to get HIV/AIDS testing and even about treatments for herpes, genital warts or lice on television or on the internet.
Every year more than 12 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases are reported in the United States. At least 3 million among them are from teenagers. Teens have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of any age group. You can catch one. Use a condom!
STDs are spread from one person to another through intimate sexual contact such as sexual intercourse, oral-genital contact, or anal sex. You can not get STDs from toilet seats, doorknobs, or from shaking someone's hand. You can not tell if a person has a STD from just looking at him or her, even if they are naked.
The impact of STDs is particularly severe for women. Since many STDs often cause few or no symptoms in women, they may go untreated. Women are at serious risk for complications from STDs. Some of these complications include: ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, infertility.
STDs must be accurately diagnosed and treated completely. This means that if you become sexually active or are considering becoming sexually active, you need to have regular gynecological or male genital examinations.
If you think you have an STD, or if you were with someone sexually who might have an STD, you should see a health care provider right away. Ask your partner to be tested too. Your health care provider cannot read your mind or even know if you are sexually active unless you tell them. Tell them and ask to be tested for STDs, especially if you have not been using condoms every time you have sex!
Pap smears do not test for STDs. If you are unable to talk to a parent about being tested or you're worried about your parents finding out, testing can be done without parental consent in the United States. It is confidential. You can even be tested through the mail for HIV -- by a home test.
Chlamydia is still the number one sexually transmitted disease in the United States, but it can be cured! So, get tested.
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