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Erie, PA, 16507
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - STDs
Denial Is No Defense
Learn About STDs to Prevent A Crisis In Your Life
Denial- we have all done it. When we hear about some tragedy or health crisis we insulate ourselves and say, “That would never happen to me!” Unfortunately denial of our own risk to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) is no defense against getting one. So who is at risk for STDs? Anyone who is sexually active is at risk, unless they are in a m utually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. In Erie County women accounted for 70% of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, while only 30 % were men. Teens (15-19 yrs old), young adults, and people of color bear the highest disease burden. For the statistics in your own demographics, check the www.ecdh.org website. In general, the more casual the sexual contact, the more risk for acquiring an STD.
STDs Incidence Is Increasing
The nation has seen an alarming trend with teens having more casual sex. It is no surprise then that STDs in Erie County teens have increased from 276 to 500 cases from 2000 to 2006 respectively. Over one third of total cases are teens. A great resource for parents to look at with their teens is a You Tube parody to the song Hey There Delilah. The music and humor will decrease the discomfort of the subject, while your teen will learn about STD risks.
What Is Your Risk?
To assess your own risk ask yourself these questions:
How many sex partners do I have now and in my lifetime?
What risks for STDs does my partner have?
Can I talk to my partner about our sexual health?
Can I trust my partner to not put me at risk?
Is the type of sexual contact I have putting me at greater risk?
Do drugs or alcohol affect my judgment about sexual choices?
What could I do to lower my STD risk?
Two points must be made about monogamy. Sequential monogamy, the practice of having sex with only one person, but switching partners frequently, does not prevent disease transmission. The problem is that many STDs have no symptoms to alert the person to get treated and they can carry an STD from one relationship to the next. STD incubation periods may vary from 2 days to 18 months, in some viral diseases. Another issue is that an individual might make smart choices to prevent STDs, but his or her partner’s choices increase the couple’s risk.
The purpose of looking at your STD risk is to then do something to lower that risk. Abstinence is the only way to avoid any potential risk. It requires a commitment and is not a preferred option to many people. Here are some other ways to reduce your STD risk:
Establish a long term monogamous relationship.
Get tested with a new partner before having sex.
Use barrier precautions.
Lower the number of current partners.
Avoid sexual activity that would be high risk for disease transmission.
Discuss STDs with your partner.
Avoid combining sex with drugs or heavy use of alcohol.
Contact a health professional at the Erie County Department of Health for more information about STD risk reduction.
Cynthia Miller, RN, B.C.
This information is distributed by Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, www.ecdh.org