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Answer common questions by teens about STDs, condoms and sex?

What are they?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a group of diseases that can be spread by sexual contact.  We’re sure you have heard about sexually transmitted diseases in one way or another... at school, in the news, on TV, in magazines, from friends, and in public service announcements. It’s common to see ads about how to get HIV/AIDS testing and even about treatments for herpes, genital warts or lice on television or on the internet.

Are there a lot of people with them?    
Each year more than 12 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases are reported in the United States and at least 3 million among them are from teenagers. Teens have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of any age group. STDs are spread from one person to another through sexual contact such as sexual intercourse, oral-genital contact, or anal sex.

What if I get one?
STDs must be accurately diagnosed and treated completely. This means that if you become sexually active or are considering becoming sexually active, you need to have regular genital examinations by a doctor.  If you think you have an STD, or if you were with someone sexually who might have an STD, you should see a health care provider right away. Ask your partner to be tested too.

Some common questions

Can you get an STD from a public restroom?  
This is not very likely.  Remember, most STDs are only transmitted during sexual contact, either by skin to skin contact or through body fluid exchange.  

Can I get HIV or another STD from getting a tattoo or through body piercing?
There can be a risk for HIV or other blood infections (like Hepatitis B or C) if the instruments used for piercing or tattooing either are not sterilized or disinfected between clients. Any instrument used to pierce or cut the skin should be used once and thrown away, or thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before using them again. Ask the staff at the parlor about their equipment. They will show you what safety measures they use.

Can I get an STD from kissing?  
This is possible but not very common. If your partner's mouth is infected with an STD, then he or she may be able to pass that infection to your mouth during a kiss. Fever blisters and cold sores can be passed through a kiss if your partner is infected, and blood-borne infections like HIV or Hepatitis B or C can only be passed through kissing if there is the exchange of infected blood. If your partner has an infection in his or her genital area, then kissing on the mouth will not transmit the infection.

Can I get an STD from oral sex? 
Yes. During oral sex, there is skin to skin contact and there can be body fluid exchange, so it is important to use barrier protection like unlubricated condoms to protect you during oral sex.

Why don't teenagers protect themselves if they are having sex?
It's not always because people don't know. Sometimes you might. . .

  • be embarrassed about buying or getting condoms

  • feel peer/date pressure

  • be using alcohol and drugs

  • have a lack of knowledge

  • believe using birth control pills is enough protection

  • be embarrassed about asking questions

  • not think ahead of time


I think I might have and STD.  What do I do?

  • DO NOT PANIC – most STDs can be treated and controlled if discovered early.

  • Be Smart; some STDs have NO SYMPTOMS – you would never know you had an STD unless you had a medical check-up.  If you are concerned, be smart, get checked.

What about condoms?

  • Always use a spermicide with condoms – condoms + Spermicides increase the effectiveness to about 97.5%.  Condoms alone can fail as often as 1 in 5 times, so proper use as well as using a spermicide is extremely important. 

  • Spermicides + condoms also prevent MANY STD’s, but not all, including HPV.

  • Spermicides only last about an hour, you may need to use another dose

  • Never use Vaseline with a condom, it will break down the latex and the condom could fail

  • Condom failure is more common among teens than adults

  • Be sure there is about a ½ inch space at the tip of the condom for the semen

  • Take the condom off immediately after ejaculation, while still erect, to prevent leaking

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