STDs & Safe Sex

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What is it?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV is transmitted through body fluids (semen and blood), through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, receiving contaminated blood or blood products, and from mother to child during pregnancy.

HIV is not spread by touching, kissing, sneezing, coughing, sharing silverware, cups or dishes. It is not spread by swimming pools, showers, toilet seats, drinking fountains, or insect bites.

How is it harmful?
Can lead to the development of rare cancers, seizures, and dementia. May be fatal.

What are the symptoms?
A person can be infected with HIV without having AIDS. It can take as long as 10 years for HIV infection to cause AIDS; this time span is growing due to available drug treatments.

What is the treatment?
There is no cure for either HIV or AIDS. Certain medications can be taken to lengthen the time between HIV infection and the development of AIDS. These must be taken according to a strict schedule, are very expensive, and can cause many unpleasant side effects.


STDs: The Low Down

STDs are both common and sneaky. One in two sexually active young people will get an STD by age 25, and most of them won’t even know it. That’s because many STDs do not show any symptoms.

How can I protect against STDs?

Abstinence is the best way to protect against STDs. For those that choose to have sex, practice safe sex. That means that guys should use latex condoms during oral, vaginal and anal sex.

Should I get tested for STDs?

STDs are sneaky — often they don’t cause any symptoms, so many infected teens don’t know they’re infected. Click here to see if you should get tested.

Many Reproductive Health Centers throughout Pennsylvania offer free and confidential STD screenings for teens.

Find a teen-friendly health center near you