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7.4: STD/STI Prevention- How to Prevet STI's

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  • Every year, there are an estimated 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI. Some groups are disproportionately affected by STI’s:

    • Adolescents and Young Adults
    • Gay, Bisexual, & other Men who have Sex with Men
    • Some Racial and Ethnic Minorities

    The Good News: STI’s ARE preventable. There are steps you can take to keep yourself and your partner(s) healthy. Here’s How You Can Avoid (or reduce the risk of) giving or getting an STI:

    Practice Abstinence

    The surest way to avoid STI’s is to not have sex. This means not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

    Use Condoms

    Using a condom correctly every time you have sex can help you avoid STI’s. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STI’s. You still can get certain STI’s, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s skin even when using a condom.

    Most people say they used a condom the first time they ever had sex, but when asked about the last 4 weeks, less than a quarter said they used a condom every time.

    Step by step male condom instructions

    Have Fewer Partners

    Agree to only have sex with one person who agrees to only have sex with you. Make sure you both get tested to know for sure that neither of you has an STI. This is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STI’s.

    Get Vaccinated

    Get Vaccinated.PNG

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\). Get Vaccinated!

    The most common STI can be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.

    Who should get the HPV vaccine?

    • Routine vaccination for boys & girls ages 11 to 12

    Catch-up vaccination for:

    • Young women ages 13 to 26 and young men ages 13 to 21
    • Gay, Bisexual, & other Men who have sex with Men up to age 26
    • Men with compromised immune systems up to age 26

    Talk With Your Partner

    Talk with your sex partner(s) about STI’s and staying safe before having sex. It might be uncomfortable to start the conversation, but protecting your health is your responsibility.

    Get Tested

    Many STI’s don’t have symptoms, but they can still cause health problems.

    • Talk with your health care provider
    • Search for CDC recommended tests
    • Find a location to get tested for STDs

    The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested.

    If You Test Positive…

    If either you or your partner is infected with an STI that can be cured (remember, some STI’s cannot be cured), both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected.