Welcome to Screen Your Soldier
No one likes those three scary letters STD let alone the more frightening words they represent. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are not the type of thing you can just ignore and hope they'll go away, nor are they a case where "ignorance is bliss," applies. Fortunately though, there are many different types of STDs and STIs that are completely curable or can be managed once they are properly diagnosed.
3 Common STD MythsMyth: Only certain types of people get STD's.
Fact: STDs do not discriminate. It doesn't matter who you are, famous or just your average Joe, you are just as likely to be infected unless you take the proper precautions (link to "prevention" section).
Myth: If I had an STD, I would know because I would have outbreaks or symptoms.
Fact: Not all STDs show symptoms. In fact, HIV can remain "silent" in the body for years with no symptom at all for some people. Other infections may also not have any outward symptoms that you would even notice without being tested.
Myth: If I don't have actual intercourse and just do "other" stuff, I can't get an STD.
Fact: Anytime you are sexually intimate you are at risk. Oral and anal sex can also spread STDS.
How do I know if I should be tested for STDs?
Most likely, if you are asking this question, the answer is yes, you should get tested. Any time you are sexually active, you run the risk of being exposed to an STD or STI. While many can be avoided through safe sex practices ( i.e. using a condom) accidents happen, condoms do break from time to time or may be abandoned altogether. Getting tested for STDs is an imperative part of maintaining and managing your overall health and wellness.
STD statistics (The latest from a 2008 CDC Report)*The 2 most commonly reported infectious diseases are Chlamydia and gonorrhea In 2008, there were over 1.5 million cases of both reported to the CDC. Young women are most at risk for these diseases.
*Neither of these STDs (Chlamydia or gonorrhea) typically have any warning signs or signals but, if left undetected, they can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility and other reproductive difficulties.
*CDC estimates that undiagnosed and untreated STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the United States each year to become infertile. As a result, CDC also recommends that women under 26 receive annual screenings, along with women who are over 26 who have multiple sexual partners or engage in other risky behavior.
*There are an estimated 1 million people currently infected with HIV in the United States, one in 5 of these people are currently unaware that they are infected.
* According to CDC, 80% of young HIV-infected men who have sex with men do not know their infection status.
Okay So Now What?
The first step in knowing your status is getting tested if you are entering into a committed relationship, believe you may have had sex with someone who is infected or have not discussed STD status with any of your previous partners; its a wise decision to get tested. While for some it is embarrassing and others simply would rather not know, getting tested for STDs is an important part of keeping yourself and your partner, or future partner, healthy and happy.
If you are nervous the day of your appointment, many find it is helpful to go with a friend or significant other for moral support. Once you know your status you can either begin receiving treatment or, if it turns out you have no STIs or STDs, you can continue to practice safe measures to keep it that way.
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