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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread by sexual contact. While the incidence of reported STIs has actually declined in the United States in the last decade, the number of these infections in children and teenagers is still very high. About 25% of teenagers will have an STI before they graduate from high school.

Bacteria or viruses cause STIs. Any person who has sex with another person can get them. While STI symptoms can range from mild irritation and soreness to severe pain, many times there are no symptoms at all. The STI called chlamydia, for example, is generally symptom free or causes only mild symptoms. The diagnosis may not be made until complications develop.

Teenagers and young adults have higher rates of STIs than any other age group. One of the main reasons is that they frequently have unprotected sex. They are also biologically more likely to develop an infection. In addition, they may be less likely to use health care services that could give them information on how to protect themselves against STIs.

Prevention of STIs

The best way for teenagers to prevent STIs is to not have sexual intercourse. They should understand that when they choose to have sex, it is a decision that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Teenagers need to know that having sex could lead to pregnancy or an STI. Be certain that your teenager understands the risks. For example, make sure she knows that acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 24 years. The presence of other STIs such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis can increase the chance of getting an HIV infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with STIs have at least 2 to 5 times the risk of acquiring HIV through sexual contact.

Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention