The number one method for preventing unintended pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. For sexually active individuals, the best protection against STDs, including HIV, is to use condoms during each and every act of intercourse. To be doubly safe, your best protection against pregnancy and disease is to use condoms with another contraceptive, such as birth control pills.
Every year there are almost 3 million unintended pregnancies in this country. Unintended pregnancies can have serious consequences for women and men, such as a decreased chance of finishing school, financial difficulties, and risks to the mother’s and baby’s health.
Common symptoms of pregnancy include missed period, tender or swollen breasts, fatigue and nausea. You can be pregnant and still have a menstrual period.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Every year, there are approximately 10 million new cases of STDs among people aged 15-24 in the United States (15 million new cases overall). By age 24, at least one in three sexually active people will have contracted an STD. Many individuals who are infected don’t know it.
All STDs are either treatable or curable. However, if you do not seek treatment right away, it can have lasting effects on your health, such as recurrent sores, inability to have children, increased risk of cancer and even death. Having one STD also increases your chances of contracting another STD, including HIV.
Common Symptoms of STDs:
- Pain or burning during urination
- Frothy or smelly discharge
- Bumps, sore or itching in the genital area
- Pain or tenderness in the pelvic area
If you think you have contracted an STD, you and your partner should visit a health care provider or clinic together. STD testing is not a standard part of a routine medical check-up, so make sure to ask to get tested. HIV tests always require informed consent.
Early treatment is imperative so you don’t pass the infection to others and compromise your health now and in the future. Though some STDs are not curable, treatments are available to reduce symptoms and lessen the effects of the disease, thus providing a higher quality of life.
HIV tests detect antibodies produced by the body to fight HIV once the infection has been introduced. A positive test result means that HIV antibodies are present and the person is in infected with HIV and can infect others. A negative result means that no HIV antibodies were found at the time the test was taken. This may mean that the person does not have HIV. However, it normally takes three to six months for people who have been infected to develop enough antibodies for their HIV status to be accurately detected by the test.
HIV tests are either “anonymous” or “confidential.” With anonymous testing, your name is not linked to your test results; instead you are assigned a number that is matched to your results. With confidential testing, your name is recorded with your results, which may be made available to medical personnel and possibly the state health department. To schedule a test, call the Center for Disease Control at 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit http://www.hivtest.org.
Types of HIV Tests:
- Conventional Blood Test: A blood sample is drawn by a health care provider and tested in a lab.
- Conventional Oral Fluid Test: A health care provider swabs the inside of the mouth and the sample is tested in a lab.
- Home Tests: Can be purchased from many drug stores and online. The individual pricks their finger, places drops of blood on a card and mails the card to the lab for testing. Using an ID number provided on the card, they phone for test results.
- Urine Tests: A urine sample is collected by a health care provider and tested in a lab.