Posts Tagged ‘STIs’



Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!


Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!



Do You Know What Your Risk Is? Need-to-Know Statistics About STDs


Summer is just around the corner, and many teens are looking forward to relaxing, hanging out with friends, and maybe even spending some time alone with that special someone. Before you get too cozy, you should learn a little bit more about STDs and how to protect yourself. Spring is a perfect time to educate yourself about your risks, raise awareness about the importance of getting tested and go get yourself tested for any possible STDs you may have.

One of the most important parts of STD prevention is education. Many organizations, such as MTV’s Get Yourself Tested have started campaigns to raise awareness about STD risks. The more aware you are of your risks, the less likely you will be to develop a disease. How much do you know about your chances of getting an STD? Here are some statistics to keep in mind when choosing to keep yourself safe:

-Each year, there is an estimated 19 million cases of STDs in the U.S. Nearly half of those cases are sexually active people between the ages of 15 and 24.

-1 in 2 sexually active people will get an STD by the age of 25.

-STDs are not only passed through intercourse. Some may spread through oral sex as well. It’s important to be aware of your partner’s history, keeping yourself safe during any sexual contact.

-STDs such as Chlamydia, which is the most common STD in the U.S. with over 3 million people infected each year, have little to no symptoms. This makes it easy for someone to carry a disease and not even know it, evidently passing it on to their partner.

-Research has found that it is necessary for teens to be checked for HIV. 1 in 2 infected teens aren’t aware that they have the disease.

-Although there isn’t a cure for all, there is a treatment for 100% of STDs. The earlier you detect an infection, the easier it will be to treat. All STDs can be controlled and most can be cured through the use of different medicines. Four STDs that are currently incurable are Hepatitis B, Genital Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

STD awareness is an important part of your sexual health. There are several locations where you could receive confidential, free or low cost STD tests.  Find a center in your area and take control over your sexual health by getting you and your partner tested.



STDs: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe


Several things are sure to run through your mind when making the decision to have sex. But which ones are the most important? What do you absolutely need to do before you do anything? It is important to pay close attention to one of the biggest factors: keeping yourself safe by avoiding potential risks for a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

STDs, sometimes referred to as STIs, affect more than 12 million Americans each year. STDs can be transmitted through any type of sexual contact and it is important to understand your risks to keep yourself safe from infection. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when choosing to be sexually active:

-Communicate: It is important to be able to openly discuss potential sexual health risks with your partner. Having an open line of communication builds trust and allows you to learn about your partner’s sexual past, addressing anything that may be an issue when becoming sexually active.

-Get Tested: Several STDs have no noticeable symptoms, so it is easy to assume you are STD-free when you aren’t. The only sure way to find out is to get tested. If you or your partner feel uncomfortable getting tested, go together. This ensures that you are both safe and may give each other some comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

-Practice Safe Sex: Not only is it important to use a condom every time you are sexually active, it is also important to make sure it is used correctly. When used incorrectly, a condom can put you at risk for STDs, so make sure you or your partner are aware of its correct use.

-Avoid Being Sexually Active when Drugs/Alcohol are a Factor: When at a party, you’re bound to have a lot of influence around you. It is hard, if not impossible, to make smart decisions when choosing to be sexually active under the influence. Avoid potential risks to your sexual health by making these decisions with a clear head rather than in the moment.

-Always be Prepared: When heading out, it is always important to prepare yourself for potential sexual activity. Although a female may expect a male to worry about the protection, it’s important for both genders to take caution. Being prepared for any possible situation will help you keep the status of your sexual health in your own hands.

The decision to have sex is an important one, but even more important is the decision to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you stay in good sexual health when being sexually active.



Should Teens Be Tested For HIV?


Some recent reports on the news have said that doctors are urging regular HIV tests for teens 16 and older. There’s a lot of research behind this recommendation, so we wanted to dig in and find out exactly what it means for teens.

The new recommendation comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who are leaders in health recommendations for kids and teens. They found that in 2006, 1.1 million HIV-positive people were living in the U.S. and 5% of those were teens. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but teens are more reluctant to test for HIV, and as a result 1 out of 2 infected teens don’t know they have HIV, and are much more likely to spread it.

The first thing to note is that this new recommendation is for teens who are sexually active – that includes all types of sex, including intercourse. In particular, in areas where HIV is more common, it’s more important to get tested if you are sexually active. If you are having sex and haven’t been tested, it’s a good idea for you and your partner to both go so that you know your status. Knowledge is power and it will help you make better decisions in the future.

In addition, if a teen does test positive for HIV, they can begin treatment, which can help them live a long and healthy life. The sooner treatment starts, the better. They can also take more steps to help prevent the transmission of the virus.

The bottom line is, if you’re sexually active, it’s time to get tested. Make HIV and STD testing one of your 2012 resolutions and become a healthier you!



How To Talk To Your Partner About STIs


Talking about STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections (also known as STDs) is a very difficult thing to do, even if you don’t have one. Before you take that step to become sexually active with a partner, you need to discuss STIs.

It’s important to remember that there can be no judgment here. Look at it as a medical issue, not an indication of your or their sexual activity. If your partner feels like you’re accusing them or threatening them, your conversation won’t go well.

Educate yourself on the different kinds of STIs so you can be prepared to offer facts as support. If you have or used to have an STI, you need to tell your partner before having sex. You also have a right to ask them about their STI history.

Decide what you need to have happen, and stick by it. If you want your partner to go get tested with you before you become sexually active, make it a stipulation. Tell them how important protection is to you (condoms, BC, etc…you can never be too safe), and if they’re not willing to use a condom then maybe you should rethink the relationship.

Do some research about the different types of STIs that are out there. Learn how they’re transferred and treated, and how best to protect yourself from them. This way, if your partner has questions during your discussion, you’ll be able to answer them.

If you are nervous about having this conversation, plan it out! Write a bulleted list of the important ideas you want to bring up to your partner. This will keep you organized and give you something to fall back on if your nerves get the best of you.

Pick a good time to bring it up. Don’t wait until your clothes are off and you’re in the heat of the moment! This might cause more unneeded tension between you and your partner. Make sure you’re both relaxed and in an environment where you won’t be interrupted.

Start the conversation with something positive, like telling your partner how much you care for them. After you initially bring up the topic of STIs, pause for a moment to let it sink in. See what your partner’s response is, and go from there. If they remain silent, ask them directly what their thoughts are. If they are on board with everything, fantastic! Pick a day and time to get tested together.

If they have issues with condom use, calmly explain why it’s important for you to use one and why you won’t have sex without one. If they insist they’re clean and don’t need to go for testing, tell them that’s great, but they may have one they don’t know about, and it’s better to have no doubts. Remind them that you’re getting tested as well, and you’re not just putting them on the spot.

Listen to your partner. Let them voice their opinions, concerns and ideas. Stay calm through the entire thing. If they seem resistant to go get tested or use protection, figure out why! There may be a solution to their concern.

Talking about sex is scary and uncomfortable, but communicating well with others about it is very important. If you give respect and show concern, you will receive it back. These conversations have the potential to not only keep you both safe, but strengthen your bond as well.