STDs & Safe Sex

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Hepatitis B

What is it?
A viral disease that kills liver cells and replaces them with scar tissue. Is transmitted not only through sex, but also by exposure to body fluids. Most of the 300,000 Americans who get Hepatitis B each year are teenagers and young adults.

How is it harmful?
Hepatitis B can lead to cancer or even death.

What are the symptoms?
Often has no symptoms. In the mildest cases, it may go away on its own. Some people become permanent carriers of the disease and can give it to others; some develop chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, or liver cancer. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, and symptoms similar to those of a stomach virus (nausea, tiredness).

What is the treatment?
There is no cure. Treatment includes rest, combined with high-protein diet to repair damaged cells and high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet to repair damaged liver cells and protect from further damage. However, Hepatitis B is the only STI that can be prevented by a vaccine, consisting of three shots.

Who should be vaccinated?
Everyone 18 years of age and younger, as well as adults who are at risk (ex., those who have more than one sex partner, men who have sex with other men, injection drug users, health care workers, and others who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids).


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