What is an STD?
A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection that is spread through sex. Some STDs affect the sex organs, while others (such as HIV) can show up in other parts of the body.
The best protection against sexually transmitted diseases is to say “no” to sexual intercourse. If you choose to have sex, using condoms can protect you from STDs. You should commit to using condoms every time you have sex, whether vaginally, orally or anally. Also, limiting your number of sexual will help you avoid STDs. If you have sex with only one uninfected partner in a committed relationship, such as marriage, you are less likely to contract an STD.
People under the influence of drugs or alcohol often make decisions they would not otherwise make. Therefore, say “no” to drugs and alcohol to avoid being in situations where you might not make a good decision (such as having unprotected sex).
Lastly, there are vaccinations for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be spread via sexual intercourse. Getting these vaccinations will protect you from contracting these diseases. It is particularly important for girls to get the HPV vaccine, as HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.
A lot of STDs are curable, but left untreated, they can cause serious health problems. At the same time, many STDs have no obvious symptoms, and the only way to know if you are infected is if you get tested. Testing is free at many locations. You can type your zip code here to find the testing center nearest you.
If you are over the age of 12, you have a right to get tested for HIV or other STDs, with or without parent permission. Your test results can only be disclosed to your parents, or anyone else, with your consent.