Remember that you need to visit a healthcare provider for all your health needs.
I've Been With . . .
Not your average preposition...
The preposition “with” can connect people in a variety of casual ways: “I work with him”, “You go to school with her” or “We hang out with them at the mall.” However, teens and young adults use the phrase “I’ve been ‘with’…” to describe a much more intimate relationship. It’s true that the social trend is to think of sexual encounters in a much more nonchalant manner. Unfortunately, the consequences of being “with” someone who may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) have not relaxed. As the numbers of people living with an STD increase, so does the chance of getting one yourself. In Erie County, compared to other health incidents, it is actually more probable to get an STD, than to get bit by a pet dog or cat...
Because of the way certain STDs spread, your exposure is not limited to the person you are “with” at the time.
If you have more than one partner, and each of those partners has the same number of partners as you have, your potential exposure to STDs increases exponentially! For instance, if you have two partners, your exposure is to three people. If you have 5 partners, your exposure is to 31 people. You don’t even want to know what your exposure is, if you have 10 partners! Viral STDs, such as herpes and HIV, are chronic diseases that are persistent life-long and figure into this equation.
Certain groups are more at risk for STDs.
Females are more often infected than males; in Erie County they account for roughly three quarters of the chlamydia cases, while males have the other one quarter of diagnosed cases. Gonorrhea incidence rates are 25 times higher for the African-American population compared to the white population. The good news is that both chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily cured with an antibiotic; the bad news is many people go untreated because they don’t notice any symptoms. Prolonged infections can cause scarring of tissues and even prevent young people from having children latter when they desire a family.
This last year the media has focused on many well known adults who have made questionable choices about who they are “with”, which would put themselves and their partners at risk. The fact remains that 75% of the diagnosed chlamydia and gonorrhea is found in young people ages 15-24.
Surveys of this group have found large gaps between intentions (abstinence and birth control) and actual behavior. Perhaps this is why 50% of a large group of urban adolescent girls were infected with one of three common STDs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis) within two years of having sex for the first time. Youth may feel invincible, but these are hard odds to ignore.
No matter how cavalier an individual is about who they are “with”, sexual behavior remains one of the most personal and consequential choices in life.
For ideas on lowering your risk of STDs, contact the Erie County Department of Health at 814-451-6711.