Did you know that one out of every six American teenagers contracts a sexually transmitted disease? Thats 3 million teenagers a year. These diseases can be painful, embarrassing, and LIFE THREATENING. Many forms of protection, especially condoms, can help prevent these diseases, but they are not foolproof. The only real, 100% effective way is abstinence. (Yeah, I know youve heard that millions of times before, but its true). So , if your thinking about having sex for the first time or sleeping around with more than one partner, read about these disease. (Plus, if you think you already have an STD, this information may help you identify it.)
Genital human papilloma-virus
Nearly 38% of all sexually active teenagers contract Genital human papilloma-virus (HPV). This is a viral infection that can increase the risk of cervical cancer in woman left untreated. The main symptom is warts around the genital organs; however, warts do not have to be visible to become infected or infect other people. In fact, you dont even have to have intercourse to contract HPV. It can be spread by simply touching the infected area. The warts can be removed but they often return because the virus remains inside the body.
Another common STD is Chlamydia, which is acquired by 29% of sexually active US teenagers, and it is also the fastest spreading STD. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and /or sterility in women, and sterility in men if not treated. Most females do not show any symptoms; however, it might cause vaginal bleeding or a whitish discharge, or a burning feeling when urinating. The way it is spread is by vaginal or anal sex, but it can be treated by prescription antibiotics. Females should avoid vinegar or soda-water douches because they dont work and may actually spread the disease.
Gonorrhea spread by vaginal oral or anal sex, is a bacterial infection in the vagina or cervix, but it can be spread to other parts of the body specifically the rectum, urethra, and uterus. If left untreated it can cause sterility or even be fatal. The 130,000 teenagers that get it each year may experience one or more of the following symptoms: burning during urination, discharge, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, backache, or pain during intercourse. However, in some cases there are no symptoms, and the disease can go undetected. The only treatment of gonorrhea is prescription antibiotics.
Another disease that infects 750,000 teenagers a year is trichomoniasis, or "trich". Spread by vaginal sex, it is a parasitic infection that weakens the immune system, making a person more susceptible to HIV. While many people experience symptoms such as a heavy greenish discharge; genital itching or burning, abdominal pain; and frequent urination, some experience no symptoms. The only way to know for sure if you have it is by going to the doctor. Then if it is confirmed that you have trich, you have can be treated with prescription antibiotics.
Genital herpes infects 125,000 teens a year, and it can be spread in numerous ways, including touching the blisters that accompany the disease, or vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The disease can be spread even days before the blisters break out. Again, while there are often no symptoms, many experience small, red blisterlike sores on the genitals, butt, thighs, fingers and/or mouth; discharge; burning sensations, fever muscle aches, or headaches. Unfortunately, genital herpes has no permanent treatment, but the prescription drug Acyclovir can be used to alleviate pain and length of outbreaks.
Finally, the most deadly STD, is HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV brings on AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which unfortunately has no cure and is deadly. In fact, it kills one American every six minutes, and its the sixth leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 24. What makes the disease deadly? HIV weakens the immune system, making the disease carriers more susceptible to disease such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. It can cause a rapid weight loss, prolonged fever, frequent diarrhea and extreme fatigue. But the disease may still be in your system even if none of these symptoms are present. HIVE is spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex, tainted blood transfusions, or sharing infected needles.
If you think you have an STD, it is advised that you go to a doctor or free clinic right away. Additionally, abstain from further sexual activity so as not to infect your partner(s). It is recommended that your partners also get tested. And even if youve never had sex before but are considering it, get a complete exam by a gynecologist or doctor. Also learn about all of the negative aspects of a sexual relationship.
If you know you have an STD, you may want to consider psychological counseling, talking to someone you trust, or going to a local support group. There are also some toll free phone numbers for information and support, such as the AIDS All Prevention Center (800 322-8911). For additional references and phone click on the "Resources used and available" link below.
Resources Used & Available
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© 1996 Julianne
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Revised: August 16, 1996.