STDs & STIs: Fact vs. Fiction

May 17, 2022

Most people don’t realize how fast STIs are spreading. Did you know that 15–24-year-old account for MORE THAN HALF of all new sexually transmitted infections each year?  This statistic is particularly alarming considering that this same age group makes up less than 30% of the sexually active population, yet they are responsible for over half of the new STIs reported each year.


Let’s take a quick minute to see how much you know about STDs and STIs. Determine if the following statements are true or false:

“If I avoid sexual intercourse, I will be safe from contracting a sexually transmitted infection.”

“If I use a condom during sex, I will be completely safe from contracting an STI/STD.”

“You will know if a person has an STD/STI because they will have symptoms.”


Would you be surprised to find out that all of the above statements are false? Unfortunately, simply avoiding sexual intercourse won’t protect you from contracting an STI or STD. This is because some STDs, like herpes and HPV, are spread by skin-to-skin contact. Although condoms can greatly reduce your risk of getting many STDs/STIs during sexual activity, they do not prevent STDs/STIs 100% of the time.  Those same STDs/STIs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact may infect areas not covered by a condom.  Lastly, you can have an STD/STI and not have any symptoms, so you can easily transmit or contract an STD/STI unknowingly if not taking the proper precautions.


Since this is such an important topic, it is important to make sure that you know a little bit about the most prevalent STDs and STIs.

Gonorrhea: can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years.  You can get Gonorrhea by having sex with another person who has it. It can be treated/cured with Medicine.

Syphilis: A person with primary syphilis generally has a sore or sores at the original site of infection. It can progress to affect the whole body and internal organs resulting in death if not treated.  It can be cured, but the damage done may not always be able to be reversed.

Chlamydia: is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. It can be treated/cured with medicine.

HPV (Human papillomavirus): This is the most common STI.  79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers.  HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. There are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.

Genital Herpes: Genital herpes is common in the United States. More than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.  It can result in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth and also sores on the genitals.  It is not curable but it can be treated to reduce symptoms.

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus):  It is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system.  It cannot be cured, but some medical treatments can help symptoms.  If not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).


At Options Health, we strongly recommend annual testing for anyone who is sexually active, as well as additional testing after possible exposure. Getting tested for STDs/STIs is a basic part of taking care of your health. As a free clinic serving Contra Costa County for over 35 years, Options Health provides free STD/STI testing and diagnosis for chlamydia and gonorrhea. In cases of a positive test, Options Health provides treatment for chlamydia and a referral for the treatment of gonorrhea, in addition to providing information about ways to reduce your risk. Call us or text us to schedule an appointment for a free STD/STI test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Options Health is a safe place where you can confidentially come and discuss sexual health, pregnancy, and relationship issues with one of our patient advocates.  Feel free to contact us today to take advantage of our free services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, pregnancy options consultation, STD testing, and abortion aftercareCall us or text us to schedule an appointment. We are here for you and ready to listen!