STDs 101

WHAT ARE STDS?

STDs are infections that people typically acquire by having sex with someone who already has it. Bacterial STDs can be cured with antibiotics. Viral STDs cannot be cured. Anyone can get one and people can have no symptoms. It has nothing to do with how "clean" someone is or how the person dresses and acts. Most people who get an STD, including HIV, do not know the person they are having sex with has one.

The most common STDs are:

Curable STDs (caused by bacteria – a kind of germ)
-Chlamydia
-Gonorrhea
-Syphilis
-Trichomoniasis

Not Curable STDs (caused by a virus – another kind of germ)
-Genital Herpes
-Genital Warts
-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)


STDs left untreated can:

  • Make you feel sick. A few can even cause death.
  • Cause reproductive infections and result in a female being unable to have kids.
  • Make a man unable to father a child.
  • Cause birth defects or other health problems for a newborn.
  • Over 9 million people acquired STDs last year, and over half were between the ages of 15 and 24.

Getting an STD can affect your life and relationships.
You can have more than one STD at a time.
You can get the same STD more than once.

HOW STDS ARE SPREAD

  • STDs are mainly spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex or genital-to-genital contact with someone who has an STD.
  • Sharing body fluids like blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, among others.
  • Touching or rubbing infected body parts.
  • Sharing needles or using needles that have not been cleaned with bleach.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF STDS

  • Burning or pain while urinating (peeing).
  • Sores, rashes or blisters on the penis or vagina.
  • Itching, burning, or pain around the penis or vagina.
  • Any discharge from the opening of the penis.
  • A change in a female’s normal vaginal discharge or smell.

If a teen is having symptoms, it is important to talk to their parents and get tested by a doctor or health care professional. The professionals can diagnose whether a person has an STD or a different infection not related to sexual activity.