As in anywhere else is in the world, Americans are concerned about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) attracts the most attention, since it may be fatal. The uncomfortable Herpes viruses, while not fatal, are incurable. Beyond these big two, dozens of other STDs affect the American public. These can be difficult to diagnose, difficult and expensive to treat, and extremely uncomfortable for the sufferer.
Beyond AIDS and Herpes, some common STDs include:
- The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which in some forms is linked to cervical cancer. A vaccine exists now to protect women from this virus.
- Chlamydia, a very common, easily curable STD. This STD spreads quickly because symptoms are often delayed or nonexistent.
- Gonorrhea, also called “the clap,” also quite spreadable for the same reasons as Chlamydia.
- Syphilis, one of history’s most notorious venereal diseases, is also difficult to detect and often goes untreated. The STD can cause serious disease and eventual death.
- Trichomoniasis, crabs (pubic lice), and Hepatitis B are only some of the dozens of other STDs that are current in the American sexual universe.
Condoms (prophylactics) help reduce the likelihood of transmitting an STD. They also reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. In neither case are condoms 100% reliable. Condoms made of sheepskin or other natural materials are less reliable, for both purposes, than those produced from latex.
Both men and women do and should buy latex condoms and have them handy, since you never know when you’ll need them. If you think you are going to have sex with someone, it’s best to bring up the difficult subject of condoms and “safe sex” as soon as possible, and get it out of the way. It’s hard enough to deal with the subject of sex without having to worry about whether or not condoms will be available and will be used at the critical moment.
Keep in mind that STDs go both ways. Of course, you do not want to catch an STD from someone who might not even know he or she has it. You do not want to risk transmitting an STD in the same way.
If you expect to have sex with someone imminently, and condoms are not available, stop! Go out and buy some. They are available everywhere. If the other person, male or female, gives any indication that they do not think condom use is important or that they have not used condoms with their previous partners, you should be very reluctant to take a chance with them.
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