It’s believed 20 million people in the United States suffer from a sexually-transmitted disease or STD. April is STD Awareness month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s campaign for April 2015 is Know the Facts and GYT: Get Yourself Tested.
Half of all STD cases in the US are reported in young people under the age of 25, but all ages can be effected. STD awareness focuses on misconceptions on how they are spread, treated and tested. Some STDs have no symptoms. The only way to know with certainty if you’ve contracted an STD is to be tested.
STD testing can be done through urine, swabbing or blood draw depending on the disease. Most tests are relatively painless and quick. If you’re sexually active, ask your doctor which STDs and how often you should be tested depending on your lifestyle. STDs to test for include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, and hepatitis B.
“STDs are more common than one would imagine. They occur in people from all backgrounds and social scenes. Most people should strongly consider an HIV test to be aware of their status,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases said. “People with symptoms that might suggest a possible STD should seek medical evaluation and not ignore the situation. Otherwise, long-term problems may occur.”
Using condoms correctly and consistently can help reduce the chance of transmitting a STD. Birth control methods (pill, patch, ring, IUD) do not protect against HIV or STDs. The only way to avoid contracting or transmitting an STD is avoiding vaginal, anal and oral sex.