April is National STD Awareness Month

Every year there are an estimated 20 million new STD infections in the United States alone! Nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year are made up of adolescents ages 15-24. And two in five sexually active teen girls have had an STD that can cause infertility and even death.1

This year, STDAware is coming alongside Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in promoting STD awareness during the month of April.The number of individuals impacted by Sexually Transmitted Diseases is increasing at a dramatic rate! And while STDs are preventable through proper education, testing, and treatment, the number of STD infections continues to rise.2

STDAware is here to empower you to stay on top of your sexual health with no-cost resources and affordable, easy testing and treatment options.

STDAware-ness

Understanding and awareness of STDs, how are they transmitted, and their signs and symptoms are a large part of the National STD Awareness Month campaign.

An Overview of STDs

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are spread  from one person to another during any type of sexual activity. Although vaginal, anal, and oral sex are the most common forms of transmission, it is possible to contract an STD through other types of skin-to-skin contact, shared sex toys and childbirth.

There are many types of STDs.

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis A, B, &C
  • Herpes (HSV-1& HSV-2)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Genital Warts – also known as Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV)
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Other less common forms such as Chancroid, Scabies, Zika, Ebola and more

While STDs are increasingly common, most people in the United States remain unaware of the risks and consequences! STDAware offers a no-cost resource center so that you can educate yourself and stay on top of your sexual health. Click here to be directed to the STDAware STD overview resource page.

Get Tested Even If You Don’t Have Symptoms!

Because STDs are so prevalent, it is important to know the common signs and symptoms. Each STD has its own sneaky way of stating its presence in the body. STD signs and symptoms are most commonly itching of the genitals, green/white/yellow or brown discharge, a strong odor of the genitals, pain while urinating, pain during intercourse, low-grade fever or mild flu-like symptoms, rash or sores on the genitals. Click here to be directed to specific information about female vs. male symptoms in the STDAware no-cost resource center.

If you or your sexual partner suspects an STD infection, there is no time to waste in getting tested. The only way to treat an STD is through proper identification.Left untreated, an STD can lead to more severe health complications and risks, and some can even be deadly!

STDAware allows you to order your test online, get tested the same day, and in most cases get your results within a day or two. More and more people opt for testing this way because it’s completely anonymous, it’s affordable, and you can get tested within minutes, instead of waiting days or weeks.

Getting tested is easy and fast.Find out more about the testing services provided by STDAware by clicking here.

It is important to note that, very often, an STD infection can be present in the human body with no apparent signs or  symptoms. STDs can be spread in the absence of symptoms. This fact contributes to the current widespread nature of STDs today and makes open, honest discussions with health care providers and sexual partners important.

Additionally, all sexually active individuals are recommended to have routine STD testing performed along with their other wellness checks. Getting tested prior to having sex with a new partner is a critical step in preventing the spread of STDs.

Life With STDs

When someone tests positive for having an STD, it is normal to feel upset.  Having an STD can feel isolating and scary, but there are MILLIONS of people living full and happy lives with an STD.

The first step after being diagnosed with an STD is to seek a physician’s guidance for proper treatment. Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, Chlamydia, and Syphilis are all curable STDs.  HIV, HPV, and Herpes cannot be cured. However, there are treatments available to manage, reduce, alleviate and in some cases, eliminate symptoms. There is now a cure for most cases of Hepatitis C. For many strains of HPV there is now a preventative vaccine.

The difference between STDs that are curable and those that are incurable lies in the biological make-up. A large percentage of STDs are bacterial infections, which are relatively easy to treat through a prescribed treatment regimen. Whereas, other STDs are viral infections which have no known cures because they interact differently with each individual’s body.

When being treated for an STD it is important to listen and implement ALL the instructions your doctor prescribes during the treatment process, such as taking all of the medicine as instructed, not sharing it with anyone, and avoiding sex until the treatment is complete and the doctor states it is okay.  Often follow up/confirmation testing is advised to ensure the infection has been fully eradicated from the system prior to re-engaging in sexual activity.

Steps for Preventing STDs

STDs are preventable. The risk of giving and getting STDs can be significantly reduced by observing some safe sex guidelines.

  • Abstinence: The only guaranteed method for not giving and getting STDs is to avoid sexual activity altogether. This means no manual or oral sex as well as vaginal or anal sex.
  • Use Condoms: Proper condom use every time one has sex can help decrease the chances of spreading or getting STDs. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STDs, but herpes or HPV can still be spread from skin to skin contact even when using a condom due to the fact that a condom does not cover everything.
  • Reducing the number of lifetime sexual partners: Maintaining a mutually monogamous relationship with one uninfected person is another reliable way to avoid STDs. Getting tested prior to getting involved in a sexual relationship is a mature and reliable way to stay disease free.
  • Get Vaccinated: One of the most common STDs, HPV, can now be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and can aid in preventing most strains of HPV and HPV-related health problems like genital warts and certain types of cancers.
  • Talk with your Partner: If you or your partner is infected with an STD, having open and honest communication is key to keeping yourself and potential future partners safe. Creating a game plan might be uncomfortable but protecting your health and longevity is your responsibility.
  • Get Tested: Many STDs can be present in the body but do not manifest symptoms, yet still, cause serious health problems. The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested and identification of an STD infection is the only way to get treated.

STD Aware offers easy and accessible testing solutions and no-cost medical counseling.

Ultimately it is YOUR responsibility to learn about STDs and to take charge of your sexual health by making the appropriate choices and taking the appropriate actions to minimize the risks contracting and spreading STDs.

Talking To Your Partner About STDs

Subjecting yourself and your sexual partner to the awkward conversation about sexual wellness history and testing can be less than sexy. But it’s more than worth having the discussion considering the alternative could result in a lifelong condition and fertility issues for both you and anyone you have sex with.

Moreover, risking the mortification of the awkward STD conversation is a sign of respect for yourself and your partner. Anyone who is not willing to have an honest discussion about his or her sexual past is someone to be wary of in the bedroom.

If you have an STD and want to create a game plan for managing your infection while enjoying a sexual relationship it is important to be direct, calm and to avoid placing blame on previous partners as this can create another issue in your relationship. Come to the conversation ready to answer questions and provide resources.

If you are on the receiving end of the “my partner has an STD” conversation, be compassionate. It takes a lot of courage to open up this conversation, and if your partner is telling you about it, it shows that they respect and care about you. Ask questions and be willing to consider all your options.

In any situation, set and stick to your standards. Even in a casual or short-term relationship, maintaining safe sex practices and insisting that your partner does as well will avoid a lot of suffering in the future. The bottom line is that no one wants to get an STD. No matter how hot and heavy the situation, when it comes to sex – safe is always better than sorry.3

Responsibility to disclose STD status

In some states, failure to disclose STD status is a criminal offense. Many states require that individuals inform their sexual partners of their medical history, especially as pertains to HIV (the deadly autoimmune disease that leads to AIDS) infections.

Depending on the state you live in, infecting another individual with an STD could result in criminal or civil charges.

The CDC has published a compilation of statutes by State of laws pertaining to STDs.

Getting tested ensures you can properly identify and treat any STD so that you do not infect someone and potentially commit a crime.

Remember You Are Not Alone

Sexual health is a crucial part of overall health and wellbeing. Continue to stay educated and aware of the risks and rewards of your sexual practices. Get tested regularly and implement treatment when needed.

If you are one of the MILLIONS of Americans who have been diagnosed with an STD, there are many support groups available to provide support, insight, and advice. You are NOT alone.

Below are just a few examples of support groups and communities you can join.

Wondering if You Have an STD?

Learn more about STD testing available at one of our over 4,000 clinics nationwide.

 

Sources

[1] https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/reproductive-health-and-teen-pregnancy/stds/index.html

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/std/sam/2018-resources.htm

[3] https://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/how-to-talk-to-your-partner-about-stds.aspx

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