A sexually transmitted disease (STD/STI) is a disease that is contracted through sexual exposure. It is possible that if you have been sexually active at all, you could be at risk of having an STI (sexually transmitted infection). Below is more information about these diseases.
How long have STIs been around?
Before 1980, the most common STIs were syphilis and gonorrhea. Since 1980 there are at least 25 new STIs that have been identified, including HIV/AIDS.
Is there really that big of a risk for me to get an STI?
One in four teens will get an STI before highschool graduation. STIs accounted for 87 percent of all cases among the top ten most frequently reported infections in the U.S. during 1997. Five of the top 10 reportable infectious diseases in 1997 were either exclusively or largely transmitted during sex, including the top four (chlamydia, gonorrhea, AIDS and syphilis).
How many people are infected with an STI?
- In the United States it is estimated that there are more than 68 million current STIs.
- Each year, 15.3 million new STD infections occur, including over 3 million infections in teens.
- The two most common STDs, herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), account for 65 of the 68 million current infections.
- It is estimated that 20 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are infected with genital herpes.
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Are teens more at risk for STIs?
- In our community, Trichomoniasis is most prevalent. Teen girls have a higher rate of chlamydia, a disease that is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility, in older women.
- At least 10 percent of all sexually active teens are infected with this PID.
- Among women, gonorrhea rates are highest among teen girls ages 15-19.
- The risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is as much as 10 times greater for 15-year-old females than for 24-year-old females. PID can cause sterility (inability to get pregnant).
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What is HPV?
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an STI that causes genital warts.
- HPV also causes more than 90 percent of all cervical cancer. Cervical cancer takes the lives of about 5,000 American women yearly, and condoms provide almost no protection against HPV.
- It is estimated 5.5 million new infections occur each year with at least 20 million people currently infected.
Why is the (15-24) age group at greatest risk for acquiring an STI?
Adolescents and young adults (15-24) are the age groups with the greatest risk for acquiring an STI. Approximately 2/3 of all people who get an STI are under 25. The Center for Disease Control states that adolescents and young adults are at greater risk for many reasons, including:
- They may have less immunity (ability to fight a disease) than adults.
- They may be more likely to have more than one sexual partner.
- They may be more likely to engage in unprotected intercourse.
- They may select partners at higher risk.
- Age at start of sexual activity has decreased while age at first marriage has increased, resulting in more sexual intercourse outside of marriage.
What about HIV /AIDS? Am I at risk?
- An estimated 25 percent of new HIV infections are found in people under age 22.
- An estimated 50 percent of all new HIV infections occur among people under 25, with the majority being infected by sexual contact with a person carrying the disease.
Which STIs are stopped by using condoms?
- Condoms provide some (though not complete) protection against HIV and gonorrhea.
- They are less effective protecting against Trichomoniasis, and chlamydia.
- Condoms provide no protection against Bacterial vaginosis (BV), HPV (the most common STD) and herpes.
Can STIs be cured?
While medical science has made great advances, the growth of STI infections continues to spread. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be “cured” with antibiotics but can leave scars, which often require future treatment and may cause infertility. And certain strains of gonorrhea are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. If you are at all concerned about having any STI, please go see your Primary Care Provider. Here are some local practitioners that you can call.
Sherry Bushnell, FNP-C, LM, CPM, Midwife. Her office is at Bonners Ferry Family Medicine, will see you as a walk-in or by appointment. (208) 267-8710
Sandpoint Women’s Health in Sandpoint, ID (208) 263-2173
Panhandle Health District – (208) 267-5558
Cabinet Peaks Medical Center – 406-283-6900
For more information on STD/STIs you can visit this site: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/abstinence.html