Adolescence can be a time of risk taking for many youth and the risks of sexual activity today - emotional, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) virus (HIV) cannot be taken lightly. Parents must be and need to be the primary sex educators for their children. Youth must be educated about sexuality and learn the values important to their family. It may be too late to wait till your child is in their mid-teens. Remember, we are a high tech, information rich, media-driven society where these issues are brought up daily. Youth must be educated to the facts of STDs and they must be encouraged to seek immediate medical treatment if they believe they have a STD. Talk to your children about STDs. The following will provide you with some information about STDs. For more information talk with your family doctor, clinic or professionals in the community or see the resources listed below.
Facts about STDs and AIDS
Anyone who is sexually active can get venereal diseases, also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The main way to get a STD is through sexual intercourse or any other sexual contact with someone who is infected. Included in these diseases are chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, urethritis, syphilis, trichomonas, venereal warts and AIDS virus (HIV). (See AIDS on page 11).
Sexually transmitted diseases are not shameful or a punishment-they are simply diseases that, if not treated, can seriously damage your health. If not treated, some STDs can result in serious damage (even if the outward symptoms disappear) including: sterility (inability to have children), heart disease, damage to an unborn baby, blindness, deafness, non-healing skin sores, paralysis and even death.
You do not catch STDs or AIDS virus (HIV) from toilet seats, door knobs or through "casual" contacts like handshakes and sharing a telephone. You can get STDs or AIDS virus (HIV) at any age.
Sexually transmitted diseases are contagious. Once you have the AIDS virus (HIV) or herpes you will always have it. Herpes can be controlled but is not curable. There is presently no cure or AIDS virus (HIV). Other STDs are curable with proper medical treatment, but you can get them again and again if you are exposed to them repeatedly.
Protecting yourself from STDs and AIDS
The best way to prevent STDs and AIDS virus (HIV) is for young people not to have sexual contact at all. If a person chooses to have sex, there are ways to begin to protect themselves: use of a latex condom with a spermicide containing Nonoxynol-9, not having sex with people who have sores or blisters around their mouth or genitals, not having anal sex, and not having sex with a lot of partners or with one partner who has other partners. Statistics show that having sex with more than one partner or one partner who has had other partners, greatly increases the risk of getting a STD.
It is very important to go to a doctor or clinic and ask to be tested for STDs or the AIDS virus (HIV). A medical exam and a lab test will be done.
It is possible to have a STD without feeling sick or noticing any changes in the body. Encourage and support a young person who thinks s/he may have a STD to not be embarrassed to go see a doctor. The longer it goes untreated, the more damage it will do. Remember that most STDs can be treated and most can be cured.
STD tests are confidential. Parently permission is not required. For more information about preventing or treating STDs or AIDS or HIV call: