Skip to main content

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Health Topics

STDs

What Are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are very common. Millions of new infections occur every year in the United States.

STDs pass from one person to another through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. They also can spread through intimate physical contact like heavy petting, though this is not very common.


STD or STI? 

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite people can get through sexual contact. Many STIs have no symptoms, so people can have an infection but not know it. A sexually transmitted disease (STD) develops because of an STI and the term implies that the infection has led to some symptom of disease. People sometimes use the terms in one another’s place. 


 

How common are STDs?

STDs are common, especially among young people. There are about 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States. About half of these infections are in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Young people are at greater risk of getting an STD for several reasons:

  • Young women’s bodies are biologically more prone to STDs.
  • Some young people do not get the recommended STD tests.
  • Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives.
  • Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult for young people to access STD testing.
  • Some young people have more than one sex partner.
MENU CLOSE