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9 Ways to Protect Yourself from STIs

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How much do you really know about sexually transmitted infections(STI) or sexually transmitted diseases(STD)?

Between the lack of sex education that is available in schools right now and the myths surrounding STIs, it is easy to be misinformed or confused about them. Whether or not you are currently sexually active, it is important to stay informed so that you and your future partner can protect yourselves from STIs.

  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STI) or sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are infections that occur through any type of sexual contact with an infected person.
  2. You can be exposed to an STI or an STD through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. 
  3. The more sexual partners you have the higher your risk of contracting an STI.  However, even by having only one sexual encounter with one person who carries an STI, you can still become infected. 
  4. 50% of all new STI cases are in 15-24 year-olds.
  5. STI symptoms may be minimal to none.
  6. Untreated STIs can lead to severe health issues.
  7. Condoms only reduce your risk; they don’t eliminate them.
  8. Testing and treatment for STIs are necessary prior to making an abortion decision. An untreated STI accompanied by abortion can lead to severe health issues.
  9. The CDC states that the safest context for all sexual activity is within a committed, mutual, monogamous relationship with an uninfected person.
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STI testing can be performed through urine, blood, or swab specimens. It usually takes a few days to obtain results. Some clinics offer Quick Testing, in which results are obtained the same day. 

STIs are easily treated with antibiotics. During your treatment, you must abstain from any further sexual contact of any kind, until one week after your treatment is completed. Most clinics will have you return in a month or so for another test, to make sure the infection is cured.  

If you are pregnant and considering an abortion, it is extremely important that you have STI testing before either a medical or a surgical abortion. If you have an abortion and have an untreated STI, it can lead to severe Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is very painful and often leads to hospitalization for treatment.  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease may also cause scarring of tissues in the pelvic organs, especially the fallopian tubes, making it very difficult to get pregnant in the future. 

Hands of Hope Tucson offers basic STI Testing and Treatment at no charge.  We perform urine Gonorrhea and Chlamydia testing for our pregnancy test clients who are considering abortion as an option. If more extensive STI testing is needed (blood or swab testing), the client is given a referral to the Health Department or Community Clinic in the area. 


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