The Truth About STDs

When I found out that 25% of college students have a Sexually Transmitted Disease, I laughed. Surely that statistic referred to the more promiscuous students, or those who were dumb enough not to use a condom during sex.

Then I found out that two of the eight girls living in my house (25%) had contracted an STD. These two girls weren’t promscuous – one was a virgin! – and the other was always safe. And that was when I realized just how serious STDs were for all women on college campuses.

The problem with STDs is that people don’t talk about them. We all think that by practicing safe sex – using a condom – we are safe from everything and because we have this false sense of safety, many of us never get tested. And that is why 1 in 4 college students currently have an STD.

April is STD Awareness Month and in conjuction with that, we at CollegeCandy decided to stop regular posting and turn today into STD Awareness Day. We have teamed with with many experts in the field – doctors, nurses, STD specialists, etc. – to bring you the information you need to protect yourself and start a necessary dialogue on a serious issue.

We urge you to learn a little bit and make an appointment to get tested!

Below are some pretty serious and scary facts about STDs that we never knew. Chances are, you don’t know about them either and that is dangerous. Knowledge is power and when it comes to STDs, it is the power to protect youself:

• Sexually transmitted diseases are among the most common infectious diseases in the U.S. today, especially among our youth. The CDC estimates there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.

• Women are 6-7 times more likely to acquire Herpes than men are.

• Over 80% of women will be exposed to HPV.

• Many women have STDs without ever knowing it — 70% of women with chlamydia and up to 50% with gonorrhea never get symptoms.

• It’s possible to get infected, recover, and never find out, but even these invisible infections could cause infertility: about 30 to 40% of women with untreated chlamydia get pelvic inflammatory disease which sometimes causes fertility issues later in life.

• A person who has never had a symptom can have an STD, and is therefore still able to transmit STDs.

• Younger people are more vulnerable to chlamydia and HPV (the two most common STDs in the US) than older people.

• 20% of all Americans over age 12 test positive for genital herpes virus in their blood.

• Women who have sex with women are at risk for many of the same STDs as women who have sex with men. Women may transmit bacterial and parasitic infections of the vagina to other women and there is also evidence of HIV transmission. In theory, women who have sex with women may also transmit HPV and may transmit oral herpes to the genitals.

• Even if you’ve been tested for STDs and told you’re disease-free, you may still be at risk: STD testing practices vary by doctor, and doctors often choose which STDs to test for based on the patient’s sexual history. Therefore, it’s important to be honest with your doctor when getting tested.

• CDC estimates that there are approximately 2.8 million new cases of chlamydia in the United States each year, and more than half of new cases remain undiagnosed and unreported.

• Most syphilis cases occur in persons 20 to 39 years of age.  In 2006, The incidence of syphilis was highest in women 20 to 24 years of age and in men 35 to 39 years of age.

• Having syphilis (or most other curable STDs) once does not protect a person from getting it again. Following successful treatment, people can still be susceptible to re-infection.

• Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening.

• Having nearly any STD can increase your risk of contracting HIV.

• Most people get genital herpes by having sex (or merely contact) with someone who is shedding the herpes virus, either during an outbreak or during a period with no symptoms. People who do not know they have herpes play an important role in transmission.

• More than 100 different types of HPV exist, most of which are harmless. About 30 types are spread through sexual contact and are classified as either low risk or high risk.

• Symptoms to STDs, such as the genital warts associated with HPV, may appear within several weeks after sexual relations with an infected person, take months to appear, or they may never appear. This makes it hard to know exactly when or from whom you got the virus.

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