Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
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A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection you can get when you have unprotected sex with a person who has an STD such as crabs, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV, herpes, trichomoniasis (trich), bacterial vaginosis (BV). People of all ages and all backgrounds can get an STD.
Regardless of who you happen to be in bed with; whether you are a guy and a girl, two boys or two girls; people generally have sex in the same way:
- Manual sex – using your hands
- Oral sex – using your mouth
- Penetrative sex – putting things inside someone
- Rubbing your bodies together, either fully clothed or naked.
These all carry risks for the spread of infection to another person. So it’s really important that you know who you are having sex with and use protection against an infection.
Anyone who has sex is at risk of getting an STD, but young people are especially vulnerable.
Did you know:
- 60% of suburban Cook County 12th grade students reported having sexual intercourse.
- 20% of suburban Cook County 12th grade students reported having sexual intercourse with four or more people during their life.
- 45% of suburban Cook County 12th grade students have had sexual intercourse with one or more people during the past three months. Only 60% used a condom.
- Persons over the age of 12 do not need parental consent to be treated for an STD; however, it is in your best interest to talk with your parent or an adult you trust. Learn more about this law
- More than 10,000 cases of STDs are reported to CCDPH each year. That’s almost half the number of people that can fill the United Center during an event.
- Of those 10,000 cases each year, 75% are between the ages of 15 and24. That means that 3 out of 4 people with an STD are 15-24 years old.
- This can all be prevented.
So how can you prevent an STD? You can abstain (not have sex); however, most people will decide to have sex at one point or another in their life so it’s important to know the facts.
Left untreated, some STDs can lead to difficulty getting pregnant, complications during pregnancies, stillbirth, organ damage and even death.
- Get vaccinated against HPV, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
- Know who you are having sex with. Before you have sex, talk to your partner about any history of STDs, birth control methods and set boundaries on your comfort level with sex.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested and make sure your partner gets tested before having sex. Find a testing site in suburban Cook County.
- Use a condom.
What happens at my appointment?
When you get to the clinic for testing, don’t be worried or embarrassed. Workers in the clinics are there to help you, not judge you. A health care provider will ask questions to better help you during your visit. Be prepared to talk about your symptoms, general health, medicines you are taking, recent sexual activity/partners and if you are a girl they will ask you the date of your last menstrual period/Pap smear.
The health care provider will then guide you through the testing process. These include the use of swabs taken from inside the vagina or the tip of the penis, and sometimes the anus or throat. Some tests will require a blood draw. STD tests may be uncomfortable, but only for a short time.
The health care provider may treat you with medication on the same day as your visit. Other times they will wait to get the test results back. Make sure you ask how you will be contacted with your test results.
Other questions you should ask before you leave include:
What happens with my test results?
How will my test results remain confidential?
The Cook County Department of Public Health provides confidential screening, treatment and referral services for suburban Cook County residents for STD’s such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and HIV. Certain eligibility requirements apply. Please click here for more information.