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HIV/AIDS

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal fluids. HIV can also be found in minute quantities in saliva, tears and urine. The virus can be contracted whenever blood, semen or vaginal secretions from an infected person are allowed to invade another person's body by way of sexual activity, shared needles, or any activity wherein bodily fluids are shared. This includes oral sex when the person performing oral sex has a cut or sore in their mouth; even very small cuts that are not noticeable may introduce HIV to the blood stream. There currently is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are a number of medications that prolong life for an indefinite period of time.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the bacteria gonococcus. It can infect the genitals, anus and throat (via oral sex). Symptoms appear between 2 days and 3 weeks after exposure. For many people, the symptoms are so mild that they go undetected. For others, the symptoms include painful urination (burning) and for females, pain in the lower abdominal area. Males may also have a thick milky penile discharge. If the infection is in the throat, the glands in that area may be swollen or sore. Gonorrhea is easily treated with an antibiotic, but if left untreated it can cause sterility.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is currently the most common bacterial STD in the United States. It may be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex, although it is rare. It may also be transmitted to a female's throat by if she performs oral sex on an infected male. Chlamydia usually develops seven to fourteen days after exposure and can produce noticeable symptoms or no symptoms at all. Symptoms for females generally consist of painful urination, lower abdominal pain or bleeding after sex. Mens' symptoms include painful urination and a discharge from the penis. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can cause urethral infections, cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or nongonococcal urethritis (NGU). It can also lead to complications during pregnancy.

Herpes

Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), which is transmitted through the skin and mucous membranes of the genitals and mouth. There are two types of herpes: Type I and Type II. Type I is usually found in the mouth, while Type II is typically found in the genital area. Either form can be transmitted to the mouth or genitals by oral sex. Herpes can be transmitted at anytime, even when no sores are present or obviously visible. Symptoms usually occur two to twenty days after exposure, although many people don't experience symptoms until much later. The symptoms usually begin with a tingling sensation, burning or pain in the legs, genitals or buttocks, but such symptoms do not occur in all people. Following this stage, sores begin to develop. After a few days, the sores turn into watery blisters. Several days later, they rupture and become "weeping" and oozing. Then three to four days after this phase, they turn into scabs and begin to heal. There is no cure for herpes, although there are antiviral drugs that can help reduce the number of outbreaks. Researchers are currently working to develop a vaccine for herpes. In women, herpes increases the risk of miscarriage and premature delivery during pregnancy.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection spread through sexual or skin contact. It may be present in the mouth, genitals or anus. There are four stages in syphilis. In the "primary" stage there is a painless sore called a chancre. In the "secondary" stage which occurs one to six months after infection, flu-like symptoms are felt. In the "latent" stage there are no apparent symptoms. The latent stage may last ten to twenty years. In the final or "late" stage, the body's organs begin to fail; heart disease, blindness and severe mental problems are typical. Syphilis is easily treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, death is likely. Syphilis is uncommon in the United States, although medical researchers have recently reported that it appears to be on the increase.

Genital Warts

Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is spread through sexual intercourse. Symptoms occur between 3 weeks to 8 months after initial exposure. The warts are initially hard, painless bumps in the genital area. Warmth and moisture encourage the growth of warts. Eventually the genital warts themselves develop a "cauliflower" appearance. There are several treatments for warts including having them burned off with acidic treatments, surgery, or laser treatments. It is impossible to cure HPV, and because of this the warts may reoccur. Untreated warts are especially dangerous in females because they can travel up into the body cavity and flourish. Early intervention and regular check ups can help to minimize the risk of serious consequences.

Recommendations

It is important for any person who is sexually active to have regular checkups with their doctor, whether an STD is suspected or not. Many STDs do not have noticeable symptoms, and regular exams will help to diagnose and treat any undetected STD. Most of these diseases can have catastrophic consequences if left untreated. Regular checkups also help minimize the spread of STDs across the population. Source: http://www.notmykid.org/parentArticles/TeenageSexuality/default.asp

Teen's Perspective on STDs
At first, I believed STDs were kind of a myth, things that existed, and that I had heard about, but were worlds away. Anyway, I didn't have to worry, because I wasn't doing things to get STDs anyway. And who really cares, there's so much hype about them all; only a few pose a big threat, such as HIV and ones like that. Oh, and the percentages. Like 5 in every 1000 will get something serious, or 1 in 100 will get something minor, at max. Most of the STDs are curable, or at least treatable, now. STDs were no big deal to me. So, naturally, when I started to experiment sexually, I had no worries. Besides, I never really had sex, I only did things orally or used hands. Once in a while the idea of an STD would cross my mind, but, like I said, not a problem. I only had one partner, and that partner had a pretty good history that I knew of. And that was the beginning of trouble. I didn't truly know all that much about my partner, I just believed what they said, and we continued to do stuff. I never did progress to full sex, because I was saving myself for marriage. When I began to have symptoms of what appeared to be an Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), I thought that it was just that, a UTI. Little did I know, though, there is just as much chance for an STD from oral things as from actual penetration. When I got the call from my doctor telling me that my tests showed that I did not have an UTI, I was shocked. She told me how I had gonorrhea, a Sexually Transmitted Disease. Me, of all people. Me, the good one. Me, the one everyone thought to be perfect. I had an STD. I had to talk to the South Dakota Department of Health, and then get tested for HIV. Luckily, the HIV test came back negative. But the whole experience showed me two things: 1. STDs are as real as the world around us, and no one is immune to them, no matter how good he/she is. And 2. You are not protected from STDs by not having actual sex; oral sex is just as dangerous and any other sex. Now I know, safety is key, and so is a knowledge of your partner, whoever he/she may be.


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