Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV…We all know what these awful things are, and as a bunch of hormonal college kids we all better know how to avoid them, and how to deal with them.
According to the Center for Disease Control, this nasty little bacterium is the most frequently reported STD in the US. Watch out though; about three quarters of infected women and half of all infected men don’t show symptoms, which include abnormal discharge and burning urination. The upside is that if you get it and you know it, you can cure it pretty easily. Left untreated, these evil guys can cause possibly permanent problems with your reproductive health. Avoid it by wearing a condom and by knowing your partners’ sexual history.
Herpes (HSV) 1 and 2: These two viruses are no fun. They can be painful, permanent and incurable. They are also very common throughout the United States. The CDC statistics say one out of four women and one out of five men are infected and often don’t know it. This means that the obvious blisters that we all associate with Herpes may not appear for a long time. The really bad part of this is that the virus isn’t just in those blisters, it hides out in normal looking skin and correct use of a condom does not guarantee your health, because you can get it from other skin to skin contact. The virus can be suppressed with medications, but it is still possible to spread it. Over time, any outbreaks that occur decrease in intensity and frequency. Again, condoms do not protect against this disease.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) aka Genital Warts: If your snatch is starting to look like a cauliflower patch, its time to go see a doctor. This is another virus that can hide out in normal looking skin. There are over 100 different strains of this virus. Of those only about 30 are sexually transmitted, says the CDC. If you get warts you can get them removed, but there is no way to cure the virus. The good news is that most infected people don’t get warts.
The more important thing to know about this virus is that it can lead to cervical cancer. Even if you never get a wart, if your pap smear comes out abnormal, it’s important to pay attention. Also, according to Larissa Semenuc of Health Services, this virus is probably the most common anywhere. She said that there are a few different statistics out there, but as many as 80% of people carry HPV.
Like Herpes, the only way to completely avoid the disease is through abstinence. But if studying gets boring and you need some luvin’, try to “luv” monogamously with a healthy partner.
Gonorrhea: Another feisty bacteria that often comes with a Chlamydia infection, this one also causes painful pee and yucky discharge. Many men don’t show symptoms, which can occur anywhere from 2-30 days after exposure. Women have mild symptoms that can be mistaken for a UTI or yeast infection.
The mean critters can be spread by oral and anal contact along with the usual vaginal intercourse. Untreated cases can spread into the blood and joints.
Thankfully, this is curable. But don’t get too excited, the CDC says that “drug resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing in many areas of the world, including the United Sates and successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult.”
Condoms are a useful tool to staving off this beast, but not 100 percent of the time.
HIV: This is a disease that we all know about and still seem to ignore. Don’t ignore it. Its out there, and rates in our age group are not going down. (Don’t believe me? look at www.cdc.gov/hiv/pubs/facts/youth.htm) Don’t forget that you are not immune and the condom may not feel as good, but its better than dying.
Go to the doctor for regular checkups and make sure your partner is doing the same. Try not to go to different partners too often and use condoms 100 percent of the time. That includes oral and anal sex. Just because you can’t get pregnant from it doesn’t mean it’s safe. And if anything starts to smell funny or hurt when you pee, it’s time to go to Health Services.
All info that is not common knowledge courtesy of the CDC.