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Know The Facts First!

Fact vs. Fiction

Sometimes telling the difference between facts and fiction can be confusing. To help you keep things straight, here are the facts:

  1. Anyone who has sex can get an STD.
    • You don't have to be a certain age or have a certain number of partners to be at risk for an STD.
    • There are certain STDs, like chlamydia, that seem to affect teens more than older people.
  1. About 1 in 4 teens in the United States has at least one STD.
    • It is estimated that about 3.2 million teen girls in the United States are infected with one of four common STDs: human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, chlamydia, herpes simplex virus type 2 infection, and trichomoniasis. The actual number of infected teens is likely higher since this estimate doesn't include other STDs – like syphilis, HIV, and gonorrhea.
    • Similar rates of STDs are likely among teen boys. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveals that the annual number of new infections is roughly equal among young women and young men (49% of incident STDs occurs among young men vs. 51% among young women [15-24 years old]).
  2. There are often no signs that a person has an STD.
    • Some signs show up later or not at all.
    • Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD.
    • A person can pass an STD to a partner even if he/she doesn't show signs.
  3. Waiting to have sex until you are ready can have a positive impact on your health.
    • Teens who have sex earlier are less likely to use contraception than those who wait to have sex, putting them at greater risk for pregnancy and STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Learn more about why waiting to have sex makes sense.
  4. STDs can be passed through vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
    • You have to be even more careful with herpes or genital warts because they can be spread just through skin-to-skin (genital-to-genital or oral-to-genital) contact, even with no symptoms.
  5. You can catch an STD from one partner, even if it's your first partner.
    • Each new sexual partner and experience increases your chances of getting an STD.
    • It's important to talk openly with your partner – before you have sex – so you can discuss each other's STD status and using protection.
  6. Use one condom at a time. Two does not mean greater protection.
    • Not only is using two condoms not safer — it's actually dangerous! When you use two condoms at the same time, they may rub against each other and rip, leaving you with no protection at all.
  7. You can't get an STD from a toilet seat.
  8. You can get some STDs again even if you have been treated for them in the past.
    • STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated and cured. But if you do not protect yourself once you've been cured, it is possible to get the same STD again if you are exposed to a partner who is infected. If you get diagnosed with chlamydia, syphilis, or gonorrhea, it is important for your partner to be tested and treated too – before you continue to have sex.
    • If you are having sex, make STD testing part of your regular medical care. Talk to a doctor about getting tested. You should get tested any time you have a new partner and engage in risky behaviors, such as drug and/or alcohol use, sex without a condom, or sex with multiple partners.
    • Remember that if you get herpes or HIV, there is no cure but you can get treatment to help manage the disease.
  9. You can get an STD from oral sex.
    • During oral sex, STDs can be passed from the person giving oral sex to the person receiving oral sex and the other way around — from the person receiving oral sex to the person giving oral sex. Condoms can be used to reduce the risk of infection.
  10. You can get an STD the first time you have sex.
    • Depending on how your partner defines being a virgin, it is possible for him or her to have contracted an STD. For example, your partner might not have had vaginal sex, but if your partner has had oral or anal sex with someone (and still considers himself or herself a virgin), then that partner is at risk for an STD. Also, herpes and HPV can be passed through skin-to-skin (genital-to-genital) contact, even if there was no sexual intercourse.
  11. You can get pregnant the first time you have sex.
    • In addition to being able get an STD the first time you have sex, it is possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex. To find out how to protect yourself each and every time you have sex, check out the Protect Yourself section. You also can learn what does and doesn't cause pregnancy.
  12. You can get pregnant while you have your period.
    • It doesn't happen a lot, but it is possible to get pregnant when you have your period. Pregnancy can happen because your period can't tell when your body will release an egg, which could make contact with sperm during sexual intercourse. Also, remember that sperm can live inside your uterus for up to five days. If you release an egg during that time, then you can get pregnant. To avoid the possibility of getting pregnant, it's important to use protection even when you have your period. Remember: condoms are the only method that protect against BOTH pregnancy and STDs.
  13. Using baby oil and Vaseline® will break down the latex in condoms and leave you exposed to STDs and pregnancy.
    • Baby oil, Vaseline®, and hand creams should not be used as lubricants with condoms. This is because they can break down the latex, putting you at risk for STDs and pregnancy. The products that work best to lubricate condoms are water soluble lubricants like K-Y Jelly®, Glide®, Aqualube®, most contraceptive jellies, saliva, or water.
  14. HIV is not the same as AIDS.
    • HIV causes a viral infection that can lead to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. When the immune system becomes too weak to fight off infections, then someone is considered to have AIDS.
  15. Disease can be passed through needles used for tattooing or body piercing.
    • You can get HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C if the instruments used for piercing or tattooing are not sterilized or disinfected between uses. And these infections can then be spread through sexual contact.
    • Any instrument used to pierce or cut the skin should be used once and thrown away. When getting tattoos and piercings, insist on seeing the staff open new instruments in front of you before agreeing to get services.

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