April is National STD Awareness Month.

April 02, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
April is National STD Awareness Month. Public awareness and knowledge is quite low around the country. STDs remain at epidemic levels. National STD Awareness Month is a national health observance sponsored by the American Social Health Association (ASHA) to help break the silence and alert everyone to the growing crisis of STDs in America. Here are the latest estimates from ASHA:

* One in five people in the U.S. has an STD
* Two-thirds of all STDs occur in people 25 years of age or younger
* One in four new STDs occur in teenagers
* One in four Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives
* Less than half of adults ages 18 to 44 have ever been tested for an STD other than HIV
* STDs are spreading at a rate of 15 million new cases each year
* An estimated 45 million Americans have genital herpes
* Over 5 million Americans acquire genital warts each year

Undiagnosed and untreated STDs can lead to lifelong health problems, even death. STDs are linked to or can cause:

* Damage to joints, heart, reproductive organs, and the brain
* Genital (penile in males or cervical in women) or anal cancers in both men and women
* Increased risk of tubal pregnancies which can be fatal
* Infertility (unable to reproduce) in both men and women
* Liver problems and cancer
* Blindness, deafness, birth defects, early delivery or stillborns in infants during pregnancy or childbirth
* Increased risk of transmitting or getting HIV by 3 times compared to someone without an STD

Many STDs have no symptoms or they are too minor to see. Many people are relying on symptoms to appear before they get concerned. The STDs can persist unless detected or treated, even though the symptoms may go away. The only way to know if an STD is present is to get tested. There is no lifelong immunity once a person has had an STD or gets treated. A person can get infected again and again.

STDs are largely preventable and most STDs are curable or can be controlled to prevent complications. Here are some key points:

* Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, correct and consistent condom use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other STDs.
* There are vaccines available to prevent hepatitis A or hepatitis B infections.
* Some STD screening tests are simple and only require a urine test (peeing into a cup).

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