The cold truth about STDs

by Sarah Butler

As you’re reading this, look at the person next to you. Oddsare, one of you two has a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

That’s right, one out of every two young Americans will get asexually transmitted disease by the time they are 25. Thisinformation comes from new data released by the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention.

“The most commonly treated STDs in our clinic are Chlamydia,gonorrhea and herpes,” said Ann Wordekemper, a physicians assistantat the Indianola Family Practice.

This coincides fairly closely with the averages released by theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, which show 90 percentof young adults getting herpes, Chlamydia and trichomonas.

By the time students start college, half of them have had sex,and 14 percent have had four or more partners. By the time theyleave college, nearly all young Americans have had sex.

While abstinence or a monogamous relationship with a partner whois disease free are the best ways to avoid contracting an STD, itis also important to be informed.

Condoms and barrier devices like dental dams are not 100 percenteffective in stopping transmission of an STD. And the consequencesof contracting an STD can be serious. HPV, which causes genitalwarts, can cause cervical cancer. Chlamydia can causeinfertility.

“The longer an STD is left untreated, the greater the risk ofcomplications,” said Wordekemper.

An analysis by researchers at the University of NorthCarolina-Chapel Hill found that young people know little aboutSTDs. Half of sexually active teens have never discussed STDs withtheir partner or their doctor. And only half had used condoms thelast time they had sex.

Wordekemper and the Indianola Family Practice suggest youngpeople who are not comfortable talking with their physician or to get more information.

Keeping informed is important, as well as getting tested. Thepresence of one STD increases the risk for another. The sooner thatan STD is diagnosed, the better it is for your health.