Young People's Guide to
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
and AIDS/HIV Disease
Table of Contents
How to prevent getting STDs and AIDS
Basic goals for HIV/STD Prevention
Learn the necessary skills to have control over your life. If you don't really feel
you are mature enough to handle having sex and the possible problems that it can
bring(e.g.. possible pregnancy and STDs), then you should learn how to not get yourself
into a situation where you are out of control. Learn how to say no.
Don't have sex until you are old enough and smart enough to prevent getting these
diseases. Abstinence is the only real way of not getting AIDS and STDs. Abstinence means not
having sex. Just because it seems that all your friends are having sex does not mean
that they are telling the truth. The fact is that at age fifteen, over 80% of girls
have not had any sex and of all kids under seventeen, 40% of boys and 60% of girls have
never had sex. If it doesn't seem like it is right to have sex then it may not be
the right time.
Learn how to communicate with your partner
. This is not always very easy to do. In America we have a hard time taking about
sex and it can feel awkward and uncomfortable. It is important to think about these
important issues in advance and to practice dealing with them. Practice saying no.
Learning to say no gives a person a lot of power in their lives and it is a very grown-up
way of handling things.
Get help with these issues wherever you can. Try your parents first. If they haven't
already started to talk to you about these issues it is just because they also feel
uncomfortable talking about them too. We are all in need of help when it comes to
talking about these sensitive subjects. There are usually people at school who have a lot
of experience talking about this and they are just waiting for you to come into their
office. School guidance counselors and teachers are there only to help you and you
may want to take advantage of this resource.
In America there is a lot of pressure to have sex. We are shown sex on TV, in the
movies and in advertisements. The changes that teenagers bodies are going through
makes you think about it more than when you were a kid.
Remember that having sex is a serious undertaking and you should think of the possible
problems that it can bring. Having sex is not kid stuff. It is an adult activity
and it is serious business in these times. Getting yourself or someone else pregnant
is a problem but getting or giving a disease that will kill you is a much bigger problem.
2. Use protection
If you decide that you will have sex, you have to be protected. Always use protection
if you do have sex. This means you should learn how to
use condoms properly
and how to refuse to have unprotected sex. Having sex is a mature activity and you
must be responsible if you have chosen to do it. Latex condoms have been shown to
be protective against STDs including AIDS. It should be noted that even condoms are
not foolproof and they may break or they
may not be used properly.(see section later on how to use a condom)
They are very effective if used in the
right way. In other words, using condoms will help to protect you but they are not
an absolute guaranteed foolproof method of being safe. They will most definitely
help to protect you but
the only 100% method to avoid getting any sexually transmitted disease(STD) is by
not having sex.
Using condoms properly and consistently will have the added benefit of preventing
an unwanted pregnancy. Remember that over one million teenagers get pregnant every
year in the United States.
3. Limit the number of sex partners you have.
It is just common sense that the more partners that you have sex with, the higher
chance there is of meeting someone with these diseases. If you have already had sex
in the past with someone, and you are not currently in a relationship, it does not
mean that you should be having sex with someone now. It is perfectly normal not to be having
sex with anyone at any given time. In the old days, it was common to have sex with
just one person in a lifetime. Actually, it is still practiced in our society and
in others but it is not well known. It is okay not to be having sex with anyone and it
is okay to be saving yourself for that one special someone if you want. Abstinence
(not having sex) is okay.
4. Avoid getting STDs(sexually transmitted diseases) and treat them promptly if you
do get one.
If you get one STD then you could have just as easily have gotten another including
AIDS. Also if you have an STD it makes an opening in your skin or an inflammation
that may make it more likely for the AIDS virus to get into your body.
5. Keep control of your life and what you do.
Don't get yourself into situations that you may lose control (e.g.. getting drunk
or using crack or other drugs that may affect your judgment). Without being able
to make wise decisions, a fatal mistake may be made.
Although some teenagers don't think a lot about living to an old age (I didn't when
I was younger), you just may make it to thirty or forty years or older and your body
has to stay in shape to do it. Taking care of your body is important and that means
avoiding unnecessary diseases if possible.
A disease that you catch as a teenager can affect you for the rest of your life. Be
Don't let yourself get into a situation that you will regret someday. You will someday
decide to have sex even though you know you are not yet ready to have a child or
to get a sexually transmitted disease. You have to know how to avoid getting pregnant
or get an STD.
Get help if you are having trouble dealing with growing up and the changes that it
brings. We all go though adolescence and it was not easy for any of us. Life is not
easy and we can all use all the help we can get. Do not be afraid to look and to
ask for help. Your parents may be the first ones to look to or maybe a teacher or guidance
counselor at school. There is usually a friend or relative or someone at your school
that you can talk to. Try to think about what can happen to you before you get yourself
in an uncomfortable situation. If you don't let yourself get into a tight spot you
will not have to think about how to get yourself out of it. If you have already made
some mistakes and you do have problems, you have to be strong enough to get help.
There are people out there who care. You just have to look for them.
Talking more freely about sex, birth control and how to protect yourself from STDs
can be learned. It is not easy for anyone but it can be done.
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