April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness month. Many awareness months come and go but this one is particularly interesting because even though most sexually transmitted diseases aren't fatal they tend to add a cloud over the heads of many people due to stigma and ignorance. You don't have to contract one. But if you do, life can still be good. Here are three things you need to know.
- They are still a real threat. It seems like the world is real quiet about sexually transmitted diseases. There are plenty of messages to encourage people to have sex but not enough messages to encourage protection. But rest assured that just because people are feeling more frisky that doesn't mean that STDs have gone dormant. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 20 million new cases occur every year in the United States. What's more is that people still engage in risky behavior that will increase their chances of contracting an STD such as multiple sex partners, having sex while intoxicated, and not using condoms. Don't be fooled by the silence. STDs are still here and can happen to anyone if they aren't careful.
- Condoms are still the best line of defense when used correctly. Although condoms have been around for decades, there are many people who still use them incorrectly. Common errors such as rolling it the wrong way at first, failing to remove excess air, and not checking for damage can lead to big problems later on. Improper use can lead to damage (breakage) and that's a no-no in STD prevention. Take the necessary moment to put a condom on properly. Need to know more about condoms? Click here to read.
- If you are diagnosed with an STD it's not the end of your sex life. Yes things may be awkward when it's time to have “the talk” and you may get your feelings hurt. But there is hope for those who contract STDs such as herpes and HIV. A recent study showed that out of all the 18-30 year-olds surveyed, 20 percent of them would willingly have sex with someone they knew had an STD. There are dating websites that can help ease the burden of having “the talk” because they are specifically designed for people who are infected. Sites such as PositiveSingles are a great way to meet new friends who have an STD and are looking for companionship. They also offer online counseling to help people deal with their diagnosis. As with any dating website you should use caution when giving out personal information on line. Using PositiveSingles, the number one STD dating and support community, is a great place to begin your search for a mate that understands what you're going through.
Now that your awareness has been raised (or refreshed) take some time to evaluate your sexual habits. Are you being safe? Do you need help learning how to be safe? Learn all you can about precaution and use it.
For more information about sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect yourself, visit the DC Department of Health Sexually Transmitted Disease Center.