Here’s a fun fact for you: April is STD Awareness Month. Some STDs are curable, and all are treatable, but some can stay with you for life and can have serious health consequences if they aren’t treated. That’s scary, but do you know what else is scary? A lot of people who have STDs don’t know it because the symptoms aren’t obvi. That’s why it’s so important to get yourself tested -- GYT. To talk about this and more, we’ve put together our own alphabet on STDs.
A AIDS. Also known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, AIDS messes with the immune system. The virus that causes AIDS is HIV -- it can be transmitted through unprotected sex, needles, blood transfusion and breastfeeding. There is no cure, but with today’s medications people with HIV can live long and healthy lives.
B Birth control. There are lots of different forms of birth control, from the pill to the shot to the patch, but they don’t all protect against STDs. Just condoms and female condoms do that. When you’re going to be sexually active, keep in mind some forms of birth controls prevent pregnancy but won’t help with STDs.
C Condoms, rubbers, sheaths . . . this is the stuff you can buy at the grocery store and they protect against STDs as well as pregnancy. Two jobs in one -- nice! Used properly, condoms work most of the time, but they have to be used correctly, every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy.
D Diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis means getting tested by a doctor or clinic. We made it easy, visit GYT, plug in your zip code, and find a clinic near you!
E Education. Be informed. Know the facts. There’s so much misinformation out there, and it’s important to know what’s a myth and what’s a fact when it comes to protecting your body. The Abstinence Only education used by many public schools is controversial for multiple reasons, including the fact that students who receive this sort of education use protection less than students who were taught different options when it came to sex.
FFemale condoms. Did you know condoms don’t just exist for men? It’s like a big secret that female condoms are also out there. They protect against both STDs and pregnancy and like condoms for men, you can buy them at the store and don’t need a prescription.
G Gonorrhea is a common STD out there and can give you pain while urinating and create abnormal discharge. Not a good look. The good news is that it can be cured with antibiotics.
H Herpes is so common one in six people are infected in the U.S. Herpes is viral, which means you can’t treat it with antibiotics. It can cause sores and blisters, and treatments for it are all about giving you fewer outbreaks and keeping you from passing it on to other people.
I It’s Your Sex Life. IYSL is MTV's campaign with the Kaiser Family Foundation to keep you informed on how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies. See?! We don’t just bring you “Jersey Shore” or new music from One Direction!
K Know Your Status. Part of the GYT (Get Yourself Tested campaign) lifestyle is knowing yourself, and knowing your status! It’s important for your health and future, and important to your bf/gf.
L Latex. It’s that stuff condoms are made of to keep you protected. And did you see when Lady Gaga wore all-latex to promote being safe? That’s fashion with a plan.
M Mercury: STDs have been around a long time, and do you know what people used prior to our modern medicine to “treat” them? Mercury! Back then, the medicine was worse than the disease...especially because mercury didn’t even work.
N Nineteen million new cases. Big number, right? Well, each year more than nineteen million new cases of STDs happen in the U.S. Eeeek!
O Oral sex. Some people believe STDs can only be transmitted through vaginal sex. Nope. You can get an STD from any kind of sex -- oral, anal or vaginal. If you’re having sex of any kind, use condoms or dental dams to keep yourself protected.
P Prevention. If you already have an STD, talk to your doctor about what you can do next to reduce the risk of passing an STD to your partner. If you don’t have an STD, educate yourself and learn how to prevent infection.
Q Questions for your doctor. It can feel embarrassing to start a conversation about STDs but it shouldn’t be! GYT has you covered with tips for talking to your health care provider.
R Risky business. Some STDs increase your risk of becoming infected with other STDs and even HIV, so make sure to get tested and treated to protect yourself.
S Syphilis. If you get a painless sore on your genitals, anus or mouth and suspect you might have syphilis, have it looked at right away. If you detect it early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics, but doctors can’t turn back the clock. Untreated, syphilis can cause all kinds of nasty stuff, from rashes to paralysis to even death.
T Treatment. ALL STDs are treatable. Some go away with bed rest and antibiotics while others may need ongoing treatment. Talk to your doctor or clinic.
U Urine sample. Sooo, who wants to pee in a cup? This is one way of testing to see if you have an STD. Other tests include swabbing for cells, physical exams and blood samples.
V Vaccines. HPV vaccines for guys and girls can protect against some of the most common forms of HPV. Find the HPV vaccine location closest to you here.
W Warts. There are different kinds of HPV, and some types of it can cause genital warts. Just like it sounds, these warts grow around the genitals, and it might be weeks to months after you’ve caught the disease before the warts appear.
X XXX films typically don’t show people using condoms, so you kind of wonder how the stars don’t catch diseases. Well, some of them do. However, they’re supposed to test for STDs regularly, like once a month. We encourage you to be on the safe side and get tested...but also to wear that condom in the first place.
Y Young people. STDs affect young folks -- did you know that one in two sexually active people will have caught an STD by the age of 25? If that’s not astonishing enough to hear, get this: most people with STDs don’t realize they have them.
Z Zithromax is one of the antibiotics used to treat bacterial STDs, like gonorrhea. But you can’t pop some Zithromax pills to fix all the STDs out there so see your doctor to get tested, or if you have an STD to get treated!