How Much Do You Really Know About These STDs?

About 20 percent of Americans are infected with STDs. Every year, there are 19 million new cases. Although STD education is common in high school, not all adults understand the implications of these diseases. These are some of the most important things to know about common STDs.



There are over 450,000 diagnosed people in the United States living with HIV, and one in five people who have HIV have not yet been diagnosed. The virus is spread through blood or bodily fluids via vaginal, anal or oral sex. Many people wrongly believe that it is only transmitted through blood. However, an person who has a sore in the mouth and gives oral sex to an infected partner could contract the virus.


The human papillomavirus is actually common enough that nearly every person will have it at some point during their life. Although many people develop small wart-like bumps from it on their genitals, the warts may appear on other areas of the body. HPV typically goes away on its own. However, some cases may lead to cervical cancer in females. The Gardasil vaccine is available to males and females under the age of 26 to prevent HPV.


Chlamydia often goes undetected for months or years because of its typical lack of symptoms. When present, symptoms are more common among men than women. In some cases, symptoms may include gential pain or itching. This STD may cause pain during urination in males and females, and vaginal or penile discharge may be yellow in color. It can lead to infertility in females due to the infection causing scarring of the fallopian tubes. There are about 4 million new cases of this infection every year.


Gonorrhea may not produce symptoms. When present, symptoms include lower abdominal pain in women and testicular pain in men. The pain may be accompanied by discolored discharge. Infections are not limited to the genital area and may be present in the throat. About 90 percent of people who have gonorrhea in their throat are unaware of it. An injection of special antibiotics typically cures this STD.


The first sign of syphilis is a painless sore, which is located where the syphilis enters the body. This is typically on the genitals or in the mouth. Since it progresses in stages, may people do not discover the infection until the final stage arrives. The sore is the first stage, a rash is the second stage and the third stage may include damage to nerves, eyes or the brain.

Many clinics offer free and confidential STD tests. Dealing with the repercussions is far more expensive. For example, the annual cost of chlamydia complications across the country is about $2 billion. However, it only costs about $15 for the antibiotics to cure the infection itself. Early detection is important. All sexually active adults should be tested frequently regardless of condom use.