STIs/STDs Infections: Seriously Impacting Youth 15-24 [Video]
STI/STD Rates Continue to Rise.
While sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect individuals of all ages, STDs take a particularly heavy toll on young people. CDC estimates that youth ages 15-24 make up just over one quarter of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year.
What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
STDs are diseases that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and HIV. Many of these STDs do not show symptoms for a long time, but they can still be harmful and passed on during sex.
How are STDs spread?
You can get an STD by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who has an STD. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD. You don’t even have to “go all the way” (have anal or vaginal sex) to get an STD, since some STDs, like herpes and HPV, are spread by skin-to-skin contact.
How common are STDs?
STDs are common, especially among young people. There are about 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, and about half of these are in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Young people are at greater risk of getting an STD for several reasons:
- Young women’s bodies are biologically more susceptible to STDs.
- Some young people do not get the recommended STD tests.
- Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives.
- Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult for young people to access STD testing.
- Some young people have more than one sex partner.
What can I do to protect myself?
- The surest way to protect yourself against STDs is to not have sex. That means not having any vaginal, anal, or oral sex (“abstinence”). There are many things to consider before having sex, and it’s okay to say “no” if you don’t want to have sex.
- If you do decide to have sex, you and your partner should get tested beforehand and make sure that you and your partner use a condom—every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex, from start to finish. Know where to get condoms and how to use them correctly. It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested, know your status, and are in a mutually monogamous relationship.
- Mutual monogamy means that you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other. This can help protect against STDs, as long as you’ve both been tested and know you’re STD-free.
- Before you have sex, talk with your partner about how you will prevent STDs and pregnancy. If you think you’re ready to have sex, you need to be ready to protect your body and your future. You should also talk to your partner ahead of time about what you will and will not do sexually. Your partner should always respect your right to say no to anything that doesn’t feel right.
- Make sure you get the health care you need. Ask a doctor or nurse about STD testing and about vaccines against HPV and hepatitis B.
- Girls and young women may have extra needs to protect their reproductive health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about regular cervical cancer screening and chlamydia testing. You may also want to discuss unintended pregnancy and birth control.
- Avoid using alcohol and drugs. If you use alcohol and drugs, you are more likely to take risks, like not using a condom or having sex with someone you normally wouldn’t have sex with.
If I get an STD, how will I know?
Many STDs don’t cause any symptoms that you would notice, so the only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested. You can get an STD from having sex with someone who has no symptoms. Just like you, that person might not even know he or she has an STD.
Where can I get tested?
Central Park Medical Associates – SAME-DAY STD TESTING & TREATMENT, HIV RESULTS IN 15 MINUTES
Our doctors and medical providers have over 100 years of combined experience in this highly sub-specialized area of medicine and are the true experts in this field. Our high standards have allowed us to obtain a C.L.I.A approved and certified on-site laboratory to give you the answers you need while you wait. Your name, identity and results are all protected by law, therefore guaranteeing you total privacy. We do not need your full name when testing, which further guarantees true anonymity.
There are also places that offer teen-friendly, confidential, and free STD tests. This means that no one has to find out you’ve been tested. Visit GetTested to find an STD testing location near you.
Can STDs be treated?
If you are ever treated for an STD, be sure to finish all of your medicine, even if you feel better before you finish it all. Ask the doctor or nurse about testing and treatment for your partner, too. You and your partner should avoid having sex until you’ve both been treated. Otherwise, you may continue to pass the STD back and forth. It is possible to get an STD again (after you’ve been treated), if you have sex with someone who has an STD.
What happens if I don’t treat an STD?
Some curable STDs can be dangerous if they aren’t treated. For example, if left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can make it difficult—or even impossible—for a woman to get pregnant. You also increase your chances of getting HIV if you have an untreated STD. Some STDs, like HIV, can be fatal if left untreated.
What if my partner or I have an incurable STD?
Some STDs- like herpes and HIV- aren’t curable, but a doctor can prescribe medicine to treat the symptoms.
If you are living with an STD, it’s important to tell your partner before you have sex. Although it may be uncomfortable to talk about your STD, open and honest conversation can help your partner make informed decisions to protect his or her health.
If I have questions, who can answer them?
If you have questions, talk to a parent or other trusted adult. Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with them about your concerns. If you’re ever confused or need advice, they’re the first place to start. Remember, they were young once, too.
Talking about sex with a parent or another adult doesn’t need to be a one-time conversation. It’s best to leave the door open for conversations in the future.
It’s also important to talk honestly with a doctor or nurse. Ask which STD tests and vaccines they recommend for you.
Youth STD/STI Resources
TeenSource.org is a project of Essential Access Health. Project activities have been supported by the federal Office of Population Affairs, Title X grant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) STD Prevention Programs, The California Wellness Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Launched in 2001 as an online hub for teen-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and resources, TeenSource.org features accurate and reliable information about STDs, birth control, healthy relationships, and teen rights to accessing sensitive services in California. The site also features youth-generated blogs and videos. Learn more about the TeenSource Digital Peer Educator Program (download report PDF or read the digital flipbook) and how you can be a guest contributor.
The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of adolescents. OAH leads through promoting strength-based approaches, bolstering multi-sector engagement, and bringing in youth voices to support healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood. Authorized by the Public Health Service Act, OAH supports research, services, prevention and health promotion activities, training, education, partnership engagement, national planning, and information dissemination activities.
The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) coordinates adolescent health programs and initiatives across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to adolescent health promotion and disease prevention. OAH manages the following grantee programs and technical assistance efforts: the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program; the Pregnancy Assistance Fund; the National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention Among Adolescents; and technical assistance to grantee organizations.