Sexually transmitted diseases affect more than 12 million Americans each year, many of whom are teenagers or young adults. The more partners you have, the higher your chance of being exposed to HIV or other STDs. This is because it is difficult to know whether a person is infected, or has had sex with people who are more likely to be infected due to intravenous drug use or other risk factors.
Here are some good facts to keep in mind regarding STDs:
- Sometimes, early in infection, there may be no symptoms, or symptoms may be confused with other illnesses.
- You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he or she is infected with HIV or another STD.
- Using drugs and alcohol increases your chances of getting STDs because these substances can interfere with your judgment and your ability to use a condom properly
- If you have had unprotected sex, you may have a STD and not know it.
- If your partner has had unprotected sex, your partner may have a STD and not know it.
- If left untreated, STDs can lead to long-term consequences, like infertility, long-term pain or cancer.
If you think you have a STD, there is something you can do about it! The only way to know for sure is to be tested.
Reproductive Health Centers located throughout Pennsylvania offer free and confidential services to teens under age 18, including STD testing and treatment. Click here to find the location nearest you, or call 1-866-SAFETEENS for more information on where you can be tested.
Call a Reproductive Health Center if you have any of these STD symptoms:
- Discharge from vagina, penis or rectum
- Pain or burning during urination or intercourse
- Pain in the abdomen (women), testicles (men), or buttocks and legs (both)
- Blisters, open sores, warts, rash, or swelling in the genital or anal areas or mouth
- Persistent flu-like symptoms–including fever, headache, aching muscles, or swollen glands-which may precede STD symptoms.