A person infected with a sexually transmitted disease may suffer from serious complications such as infertility, chronic pain, and possibly death (Engender Health, 2003). Understanding the how sexually transmitted diseases are spread, what their symptoms are, and how they can be treated is the first step toward prevention.
There are two types of sexually transmitted infections, curable and incurable.
Some viral diseases, including AIDS and hepatitis B, are spread through direct exposure to infected blood and can be transmitted through sexual contact or through nonsexual means such as the sharing of needles for drug use.
Young people are especially at risk for many sexually transmitted diseases.
One quarter of new infections of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) are found in people under 22.
Young women are at greater risk than older women for reproductive and health complications caused by STDs.
With approximately 15.3 million Americans acquiring a sexually transmitted infection per year, the spread of these infections is considered to be an epidemic by some researchers (Mc Anulty & Burnette).
Sadly, over two thirds of Americans that are infected each year are under the age of twenty-five (ASHA, 2001).
Antibiotics are useless against viral STDs, however.
Public health measures have therefore focused primarily on preventing the spread of STDs.