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Contact Information
Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health
Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Programs
600 S. Commonwealth Ave., 8th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 639-6416
FAX: (213) 639-1034

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Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections
Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Man and woman

What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a disease that is spread from one person to another through sexual contact, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. STIs are also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STIs are common, especially among young people.

Common STIs include:

  • Chlamydia

  • Gonorrhea

  • Genital Herpes

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

  • Syphilis

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

  • Hepatitis A and B

What are symptoms of STIs?

Typical STI symptoms for women may include:

  • unusual vaginal discharge

  • burning when urinating

  • sores, bumps, redness, or itching near the vaginal area

Typical STI symptoms for men may include:

  • discharge from the penis

  • burning when urinating

  • sores, bumps, redness on or around the penis

Many STIs do not cause any noticeable symptoms, so the only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested. Keep in mind you can get an STI from having sex with someone who has no symptoms and may not know he or she has an STI. 

Why should I care about STIs?

Curious couple

STIs may have serious consequences. If you ignore an STI, you might develop other health problems later. These problems can include heart, brain, or liver damage; infertility; cancers in your reproductive organs; and even death. Having an STI also makes it easier for you to become infected with HIV.

Where can I get tested?

If you live in Los Angeles County and are at least 12 years old or older, you can call the Los Angeles County STD Hotline at (800) 758-0880 to find out where you can get tested and treated for free. For more information on free testing locations near you, see our STD clinics page.

If you do not live in Los Angeles County, you can call the CDC National STD Hotline at (800) 232-4636 or click here to find an STD center near you.

Can STIs be treated?

Bacterial STDs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis, can be easily treated and cured. Viral STIs like Herpes, genital warts, and HIV are incurable, but there are treatments available to manage the symptoms. Vaccines are available to prevent the onset of certain STDs. For vaccines to be effective, a person has to be vaccinated before they are exposed to the infection.

If you think you have an STI, see a health care provider immediately. Seeking treatment early will help to minimize the long-term effects of most STIs. Make sure your partner(s) get tested and treated too.

How can I prevent STIs?

The best way to prevent an STI is to not have vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

If you do have sex, lower your risk of getting an STI with the following steps:

Man with condom in pocket
  • Use a latex condom correctly each time you have sex. You can also use other barriers like polyurethane (plastic) condoms, female condoms, or dental dams. Birth control methods like the pill, depo provera, or diaphragms DO NOT protect against STIs.

  • Talk to your partner(s) about safer sex before having sex. Try to select a setting that is neutral and non-sexual. Discuss your sexual histories including past sex partners and STIs.

  • Limit your number of sex partners. The more people you have sex with, the greater your chances of getting an STI. A monogamous relationship — where you and your partner only have sex with each another — is safest.

  • Go to a clinic for an STI checkup every six months if you change partners, have more than one partner, or if you think your partner may be having sex with anyone else.

  • If you have an STI, make sure both you and your partner(s) get treated. Do not have sex again until both you and your partner(s) complete treatment.

  • Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available for HPV, and Hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor or go to a clinic to find out if these vaccines are suitable for you. Learn more about HPV Vaccine here. For more information on where to get Hepatitis B vaccine in L.A. County, click here.

  • Pregnant woman shaking hands with doctor
  • If you are pregnant, seek prenatal care early. Early detection and treatment of STIs is important to prevent transmission or development of complications in your baby.


More Information:
Planned Parenthood – Safer Sex

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Mayo Clinic – Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

STD Risk Calculator for Android

STD Risk Calculator for iPhone

Khan Academy Medicine – Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  1. Division of HIV and STD Programs. STD Information. n.d. Retrieved from:



FAMILIA en español

Family Planning
Planning Your FAMILIA Contraception Options

Active Living      
Tips for an Active Life
Stretching and Soreness

Maintain a Healthy Weight     
What is a Healthy Weight and
Why Should You Achieve It?

Healthy Ways to Lose Weight
Achieve a Healthy Weight by Managing Stress and Sleeping More

Improve Nutrition
Recommendations for Eating Healthy      
Healthy Eating Out      
Healthy Beverages

Less Stress       
What is Stress?      
What is Depression?     
What is Anxiety?

Prevent STIs
Prevent sexually transmitted infections

Address Abuse   
Healthy Relationships      
Abusive Relationships

Questions? Contact us:  (213) 639-6416 
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