Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Electron micrograph of hepatatis B viral particles Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect approximately 15 million new people annually in the United States, but most people remain unaware of the risks and consequences of all but the most prominent STD-HIV. Most prevalent among teenagers and young adults, many STDs are asymptomatic, especially in women. Due to the lack of noticeable symptoms, STDs are often not diagnosed, and even when they are, the diagnoses are underreported. Even when asymptomatic, STDs are infectious to sex partners, which is why periodic screening for all persons who have had multiple partners is recommended. The regular use of condoms decreases the transmission of most STDs.

What can you do to limit the spread of STDs?

  •  Practice abstinence, the only sure way to avoid STDs.
  • Try to limit your exposure to STDs. Unprotected sexual activity increases your chance of exposure and infection. If you or your partner has more than one sexual partner, this increases your chances of getting an STD.
  • Use barrier protection such as a condom.
  • Look at your partner for any noticeable signs of infection before having sex. If you see any signs such as rashes, sores, discharge or swelling, stop and talk about the importance of getting an STD test before having sex.
  • If you think you may be infected with an STD, avoid any sexual contact and visit a local sexually transmitted disease clinic, hospital or your own primary care physician. If possible, bring your sex partner(s) with you so that they can be treated, if necessary.

Specific STDs

  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Chancroid
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital Herpes
  • Genital Warts-Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

Recommended Web Site Links

Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Division of STD Prevention includes data on local prevalence, disease surveillance and fact sheets.