Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Infections (STDs/STIs)

What do you need to know?

Quick Facts

STD Statistics
  • 25% of Americans ages 15-55 are infected with a viral STD
  • 1 out of 4 sexually active teens gets an STD each year
  • There are 15.3 million new STD infections per year (not including AIDS)
  • 2 out of 3 newly infected people are under the age of 25

Statistics from CDC, IOM, and KFF. For more info, contact us.

There are two main types of STDs—bacterial and viral. Bacterial STDs are treatable, which means antibiotics can get rid of the infection. Viral STDs are incurable, which means there is no way to actually kill the virus, although in most cases there is medication to make you feel better. Some viruses go away on their own (like Hepatitis B for most people), and some a person has for life (like Herpes or HIV).

STDs are typically passed from an infected person to another person through sexual contact. Most are spread through contact with body fluids, like semen, vaginal secretions, or blood. But some are spread by skin-to-skin contact. That means you don’t necessarily have to have sex to get them—they can be passed through other kinds of intimate touching. For these diseases, condoms are less effective, because the places of infection can be on parts of the body not covered by a condom, like under pubic hair or inside the mouth. That’s why sexual activity means any kind of touching in private areas, including oral sex and intercourse.

"The best way to avoid STDs is abstinence; even a condom is not 100% safe from diseases. There are other ways to show love than sexual activity." —male student

Many people with STDs have no symptoms, so they don’t look or feel sick. This often means they don’t know they are infected, which makes them less likely to get treatment and more likely to pass the disease or infection on to someone else. Not treating a curable STD can cause major problems, such as infertility (not being able to have children). Because so many people are infected with an STD without knowing it, it is very important for sexually active individuals to get tested for STDs regularly.

STDs are a real threat to the health of sexually active individuals. You need to know about them even though they might seem scary or disgusting, so that you can make an informed choice about when to become sexually active. Remember, the only way to 100% protect yourself from STDs is by waiting to have sex until you’re in a faithful, lifelong relationship.

Details on specific STDs

What about condoms? Other important info