When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, there is no age, race, or class that is safe from potential contraction. However, certain behaviors put people at risk more than others, while certain age groups are more likely to contract specific STDs.
Check out this overview of STDs by the numbers:
- Young people are most at risk of contracting new infections. The CDC estimates that there are 19 million new STD infections each year, and around half of those occur in people ages 15-24.
- Women are at greater risk of contracting STDs than men. They are twice as likely to contract HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex than men are. And, they also tend to have more severe side effects from STDs than men do. This is all likely due to the anatomical differences between men and women and the way STDs can more easily spread through a woman’s vagina to her internal organs.
- Older people are increasingly at risk for STDs. Although young people are most at risk, STDs appear to be catching up to older generations as well, presumably because these individuals aren’t as accustomed to using condoms and preparing for safer sex. According to the CDC, new HIV infections are occurring more often in people over 50 years of age than in people 40 and under, and this is an important reminder that everyone must practice safer sex, regardless of their age.
- Binge drinking increases risk of STDs. A recent study found that women who regularly drink five or more alcoholic beverages a day are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and contract STDs. Binge drinking can impair judgment and make condom use less likely.
- African-Americans are at increased risk of chlamydia. According to the CDC, African-Americans had 8.7 times the rate of chlamydia than Caucasians, and 20.5 times the rate of gonorrhea. The good news is that regular condom use and STD testing can help to prevent and catch these STDs from spreading, and they are easily treatable particularly if they are caught early on.
Statistics such as these are only as useful as people make them. The reality is that everyone is at risk for STDs and that every age, race, and class is vulnerable to infection. However, the good news is that you can greatly decrease your risk by practicing safer sex, which means always using condoms and dental dams (during intercourse and oral sex), and by limiting your number of sexual partners and being aware of your sexual health status and your partner’s sexual health status.
Get tested regularly and ask your partners to do the same. Visit www.sexualhealth.com to learn more.