The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that cases involving gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia have reached record highs.
- There were 1.5 million cases of chlamydia last year, which represents a 6% increase over the year prior.
- There were 400,000 cases of gonorrhea last year, which represents a 13% increase over the year prior.
- There were 24,000 cases of syphilis last year, which represents a 19% increase over the year prior.
CDC officials believe that the growth in the number of cases are partially due to better testing and diagnosis, but that doesn’t fully explain the spike in STIs.
The CDC does have a guide, titled “Take Control,” that lists ways to prevent catching and spreading STDs:
- Abstinence. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
- Vaccination. Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.
- Reduce the Number of Sex Partners. Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.
- Mutual Monogamy (“Friends With Benefits”). Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
- Use Condoms. Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. But it is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention.
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