With April being STD Awareness Month, the CDC has released new statistical information on three common STDs: gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis and the facts are startling.
Since 2007 to 2011, Chlamydia cases across the U.S. increased at a steady rate, reaching approximately 58,000 and it is the most common type of STD. However most people do not know they have Chlamydia because often there are no symptoms and they do not get tested. Colloquially known as the clap, gonorrhea decreased and increased and decreased during the same time period, but slightly increased from 2010 to 2011 (11,105 cases). Syphilis cases, though significantly lower than the other two highlighted STDs, it was reported to be higher in Los Angeles County than the other counties and independent cities listed in the CDC report – third on the list was San Francisco, while San Diego was seventh.
Twenty million new STDs occur each year and 16 billion is the cost of treating STDs contracted in one year, according to the report and there are approximately 31 total STDs.
To prevent the spread of STDs in sexually active people, the CDC provided four strategies: vaccinations, condom usage, reducing the number of sexual partners, and mutual monogamy.
Vaccinations exist for three diseases not mentioned earlier: hepatitis B, hepatitis A, and HPV. The report states, “HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger.”
Condom usage dramatically decreases the likelihood of transmitting an STD, but unfortunately some people do not know the most effective ways to use a condom. It is best never to apply oil or petroleum-based lubricant to a latex condom such as lotions, Vaseline, or baby oil because these products deteriorate the material. Instead water and silicon-based lubricants should be used and more and more companies are creating unique condom and lubricant flavors like bacon and avocado. There are four different types of materials that condoms are made of latex, lambskin, polyurethane, and polyisoprene. Each condom, except lambskin, protect against viruses that cause STIs. Lambskin has small pores, which makes it unsuitable for people who have multiple sex partners.
Reduce Number of Sex Partners
The more sexual encounters you have with different people increases your chances of getting an STD. Therefore it is recommended that people with multiple sexual partners get tested every six months or earlier if STD symptoms appear. And it is better to get tested for symptoms to be safe. With some STDs the symptoms disappear and remain dormant in the body and reappear later in life and are no longer treatable at that point.
In a monogamous (and committed) relationship, where two people only have sex with one another is the safest way to prevent STDs. Sexual health advocates recommend that partners get tested together before they have sex in order not to pass on STDs to one another.
If a person has an STD, it increases their chances of contracting HIV as well as other STDs and if untreated gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis can lead to infertility, damage to the brain, and even death. To find a testing site near you, visit the link here and enter your zip code.