Young people under the age of 25 have the highest rates, and are at the highest risk, for most STDs. In 2006, there were more than 24,000 cases of
chlamydia and more than 5,000 cases of
gonorrhea among youth ages 15-24 in L.A. County. The risk for youth for other STDs, like
(the virus that causes genital warts) is also very high. In fact, itís estimated that one in four young women in the U.S. ages 14-19 is infected with at least one common STD, including herpes, HPV, chlamydia and
There are many resources in L.A. County for young people to maintain their sexual health:
free and low-cost clinics, easy ways to
tell your partner
about an STD, and effective
Hepatitis A and B.
If you think you have HIV or an STD or find out someone you had sex
with or shared needles with may have one or both, get checked and treated right away. Also get checked if you
notice any unusual symptoms, like burning when you pee, rashes, bumps, lumps, or
pain in the genital or groin area. You can find a clinic near you by calling one
of our hotlines or visiting our websites.
HIV and many STDs often have no symptoms Ė until they lead to more serious problems or complications. So if you have a new sex partner, talk with him or her about both of you getting checked Ė there are many free
HIV and STD testing locations throughout the L.A. area.
If you have HIV or an STD, you need to let your sex partner
know. That way, he or she can get treated, and it also helps stop the spread of
the STD back to you, or to someone else.
Tips for Youth to Stay Sexually Healthy
Know you can consent for your own HIV and STD testing and care, and get your own birth control. In California, if youíre 12 years old or older, you can get tested and treated for
HIV or STDs without your parentsí permission, and without them even knowing. And anyone, no matter what age you are, can get birth control without their parentsí permission, itís the law!
Find out more here.
Know about HIV/STDs. HIV and STDs are transmitted through direct sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and some (like syphilis or herpes) can be transmitted through the vigorous skin-to-skin rubbing that takes place during sex.
Use condoms. If youíre sexually active, using
condoms every time you have sex is still your best protection against HIV and other STDs. There are more condom choices now than ever before, including different shapes, and condoms made of latex or polyurethane Ė learn what you like. Thereís also a condom for women (called the Female Condom) that goes inside the vagina. Some people (including guys) like this condom because they say it feels better. For any condom, use plenty of lube (water-based lube only for latex condoms), which can reduce any chance the condom will break or tear. For oral sex on a guy, there are flavored condoms, and for oral sex on a woman you can use plastic wrap, or cut a condom at the tip and then lengthwise and place it over the vagina.
If youíre having sex, get an HIV and STD check-up at least once a year, and right away if you have symptoms, or your partner has an STD.
Again, you can find a free or low-cost clinic near you by calling the STD
Hotline at 1-800-758-0880, or visiting our clinics
Know your body. If you notice unusual
rashes, bumps, lumps, discharges, sores, or pain, donít
just wait for them to go away Ė go get them checked out!
But often, STDs donít cause any symptoms at first. They
can still cause serious health problems later, like not
being able to have children, serious damage to your
organs, and even cancer. There are dozens of
clinics in the L.A. area where
you can get free or low-cost STD testing. If you donít have health insurance, or have a limited income (including if you live with your parents) you may also qualify for
a California program that can offer you free birth
control and HIV/STD testing.
Talk to your partner.
Not talking about HIV and STDs doesnít make them go away. Itís your body. Talk to your partner. Itís also important to remember that
HIV and STDs often have no symptoms Ė so your partner might think he or sheís ďcleanĒ but still be able to
pass along the infection. And you might also think youíre
HIV/STD-free, but still have an infection you could give to your partner. If you or your partner find out either of you have
HIV or an STD, the main thing is that both of you get treated, so you donít keep passing the
infection back and forth to each other.
Know about partner therapy. If you have Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, itís always good for your partner to go get checked. But itís also possible to get medication from your doctor to give to your partner right away. Ask your doctor.
Know about cervical cancer prevention and the HPV vaccine. New vaccines are available free for young women to prevent types of HPV (human papillomavirus)
that can cause cervical cancer Ė a common cancer that affects women.
Know about Emergency Contraception (EC). If you didnít use birth control or something happened (like a condom broke or you forgot to take your birth control pills)
in which you might get pregnant, you can get emergency contraception. If you have
Family PACT you can get EC for free. You can also get EC from several L.A. County agencies or from your pharmacist.
Know the HIV-STD connection. If you're HIV-negative and have an STD like
Syphilis or Gonorrhea, you are two to five times more likely to become HIV-infected if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner. If youíre HIV-positive and have an STD, itís easier for you to transmit HIV to a negative partner.
If you or your partner have Herpes, learn about suppressive therapy.
Daily medication can reduce the number Herpes outbreaks. It can also reduce
the amount of Herpes virus that is shed through the skin between outbreaks,
which may in turn reduce the chance of transmitting Herpes to sex partners. Talk to your doctor to see if this therapy is right for your situation.
Make sure youíve been vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.
Hepatitis A and B are serious diseases that can cause illness for weeks or
months. Hepatitis B can also cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of
the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. Youth under age 18 can get
free vaccine (but do need their parentsí consent for this). Free vaccine
is available -- click here for resources
in LA County or call the
STD hotline 1-800-758-0880.
Using drugs and alcohol increases your
HIV and STD risk. Alcohol and drugs increase your risk for
HIV and STDs when they increase the number of partners you have, or reduce your use of condoms. If you use alcohol or drugs, having condoms available and ready increases your chances of using them while under the influence. If your drug or alcohol use is out of control, find local treatment and recovery resources by calling 1-800-564-6600.
Links and Resources. If you are looking for more resources and
hotlines, please check out our Resource and
Materials webpage for even more help.