April 10th – 16th marks this year's sexually transmitted disease (STD) awareness week. Whether you are married, casually dating, or single, protecting yourself against STDs should always be a priority. Keep reading to learn more about STDs, how they are transmitted, and how you can protect yourself and your partners.
*From the World Health Organization (WHO)
Knowledge of the most common STD signs and symptoms, as well as how they are transmitted, can help you determine if you may have contracted one. Many STDs share similar symptoms, so it is important to get tested if you think you have been exposed. Read more below about the basic facts of STDs.
The most common STIs in the U.S. are Human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea. Some STIs, such as Chlamydia, can be easily treated but others, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), require lifelong treatment. Read more about the most common STIs and their symptoms below.
Protect Yourself and Your Partners
Learn how to apply, use, and dispose of various barrier methods of protection against STI’s with the guides below. Although none are 100 percent effective at eliminating transmission, they can significantly reduce your chances of contracting an STI. To be most effective they must be used consistently during each instance of sexual contact.
The HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B vaccines are typically recommended for infants and children. However, some adults who are not previously vaccinated and meet certain risk-criteria are also recommended to receive the vaccine. Click the link beneath each vaccine to learn if you are eligible to receive the vaccine or to learn more about its safety and effectiveness.
Regular STI testing is one of the most important actions you can take to protect yourself from STDs. The CDC recommends sexually-active adults be tested for STDs at least once a year, though your unique situation may require you to get tested more or less often. See below for more information on how to get tested and what to do afterwards.
Click the link below to learn more about the testing process and determine what you should get tested for.
Find your local testing site using the link below. Once you receive your results, speak to your provider about next steps.
The link below provides guidance on what to do if you text positive for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea but can be applied to any STI diagnosis.
Combating the Stigma
A common misconception surrounding STDs is that only “promiscuous” and “irresponsible” people get them. These, and similar, statements spread false information about STD transmission and discriminate against those living with STDs. Learn more about the harmful effects of stigma and what you can do to change the way we talk about STDs below.
Stigma discourages people from getting tested, seeking treatment, and informing their partners of their status. This video highlights legal and social consequences a person may experience from disclosing their status.
Start combating the stigma today by speaking with your partner about each other’s STI status and your expectations for your intimate relationship. The resource below provides conversation starters to help you introduce the subject.