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STD Awareness Month 2015

Three young adults talkingApril is STD Awareness Month. 

Know the facts! GYT: Get Yourself Tested

False assumptions about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)—how they're spread, treated, and prevented—are everywhere and it can be especially hard for people to get the facts. Here are five you need to know:

  • You can't tell someone has an STD just by looking at them.
  • STD tests aren't always a part of a regular doctor visit.
  • Almost all STDs that can be spread via unprotected vaginal sex can also be spread through unprotected oral and anal sex.
  • Using a condom can take a lot of the worry out of sex, since it can prevent unintended pregnancy and protect you from STDs.
  • STD testing is a basic part of staying healthy.

Because half of the estimated 20 million STDs that occur in the United States each year are among young people, STD Awareness Month 2015 is focused on this population. This month-long observance provides an opportunity to clear up misperceptions about STD prevention and testing, and confront the unique challenges that young people face when it comes to preventing these infections.

Know the Facts

Half of all sexually active young people in the United States will get an STD by the time they're 25—and most won't know it.

Not having sex is the only way to prevent STDs. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. If you are sexually active, however, you can lower your risk of getting STDs by:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and does not have STDs.
  • Limiting the number of people you have sex with if you have more than one partner.
  • Using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex.
  • Getting an HPV vaccine, which can protect you against diseases (including cancers) caused by the human papillomavirus.

GYT: Get Yourself Tested

Getting yourself tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Not only is it quick and simple, it's also usually confidential. A 2014 study found that one-third of adolescents didn't talk about sexual health issues with their physicians at all during annual health visits. It is important to be honest with your health care provider about your sexual history so that he or she can provide you with the appropriate STD testing and prevention guidance. If you're not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STDs, there are many clinics that provide confidential and free or low-cost testing. It is also important that you find and visit a doctor or other medical provider who stays current on STD and HIV testing recommendations.

Share the Knowledge

Now that you know the facts, it's time to spread the word! The GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign is a youth-oriented, empowering social movement to encourage young people to get tested and treated for STDs and HIV. GYT campaign materials have been developed for doctors, health departments, school administrators, and community-based organizations to help young people increase their knowledge about STD prevention and testing. You can order newly designed GYT posters, stickers, and postcards at CDC-INFO on Demand to display in schools, clinics, community organizations, and health departments.

GYT is a partnership between the American College Health Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, National Coalition of STD Directors, MTV, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Technical consultation for GYT is provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.