You have the right to know…
One in five Americans presently have an STD and nearly 80% of people that are infected with an STD do not know it. You can have an STD and have no symptoms for months, or even years, but STDs are contagious even if no symptoms are present.
Women are often more at risk for STDs because their bodies don’t always display symptoms and damage can result. Infections can cause severe damage to delicate reproductive organs, resulting in infertility. If you are involved sexually, you need to know these facts.
Aren’t we dealing with the same STDs as those in the 60s and 70s?
No. In the 60s only syphilis and gonorrhea were common. Today there are at least 25 STDs, and at least eight new pathogens have been identified since 1980, including HIV.
Source: Eng TR, Butler WT, eds. The Hidden Epidemic – Confronting Sexually Transmitted Disease. Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.
What are the facts about the most common STDs?
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- How many people are infected with an STD?
It is estimated that there are more than 68 million current STD infections among Americans. In the 1970s, one adolescent in 47 contracted a STD. Today, that figure is one in four. Each year, 15.3 million new STD infections occur, including over 4 million infections in teens. The two most common STDs, herpes and human papilloma virus (HPV), account for 65 of the 68 million current infections. It is estimated that 20 percent of all Americans age 12 and older are infected with genital herpes.
Source: American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Disease in America : How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park , Calif. : Kaiser Family Foundation; 1998. Source: Fleming, D, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in the United States, 1976-1994. N Engl J Med. 1997;337(16): 1105-1111.
Who is most at risk?
Adolescents and young adults (15-24) are the age groups at the greatest risk for acquiring an STD. Approximately two-thirds of all people who acquire STDs are under 25. The Centers for Disease Control states that adolescents and young adults are at greater risk for many reasons, including:
- They may have less immunity than adults
- They may be more likely to engage in unprotected intercourse
- They may select partners at higher risk
- Age at initiation of sexual activity has decreased while age at first marriage has increased, resulting in more nonmarital sexual experience
- They may be more likely to have multiple sex partners
According to former U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, “When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the last 10 years, and everyone they have had sex with for the last 10 years.”
Can’t I just go to the doctor for treatment?
While medical science has made great advances, the STD epidemic continues to grow. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be “cured” with antibiotics, but can leave scars, which often require future treatment and may cause infertility. And certain strains of gonorrhea are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Viral STDs pose a major problem, because no medical cure has been found for any virus-not even the common cold. This means if a person becomes infected with a viral STD (such as herpes, HPV or HIV) there is no cure. A vaccine for herpes has been rumored for years, but has not yet been produced. Antiviral drugs reduce the number of outbreaks a person with herpes experiences, they cannot eliminate the outbreaks entirely. A cure, or vaccine, for the HIV virus is probably years away. We do know, however, that even if vaccines or cures for these infections were available today-the STD problem would not be solved.
How can I protect myself from STDs?
Well, there isn’t a pill to protect you from STDs and condoms just don’t cut it. The only way to protect yourself 100% from STDs is by practicing sexual purity. You might think, “Well, it’s too late for me…I’ve already made so many mistakes…” The truth is, though, that it’s not too late. You can make a change that will lead to a healthier life from this day forward! Hey, you are worth the wait!
The information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose any condition or pregnancy and should not take the place of your medical practitioner. Consult your physician with any medical questions you might have. The information and services are provided with the understanding that neither Hope Connections Pregnancy Resource Center nor its suppliers or users are engaged in rendering legal, medical, counseling or other professional services or advice.