Facts about sexual health

The habits that you develop in your 20s can set the tone for your entire life. And one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy is to get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, African-Americans account for about 44% of new HIV infections despite making up a mere 13% of the U.S. population. And African Americans have a chlamydia rate that’s seven times greater then that of whites. The following is a quick rundown of STDs that are still impacting Black America. By getting tested frequently and beginning healthy sexual practices, such as the use of a condom, early in life, you can keep yourself, as well as your partners protected.

Chlamydia: This disease causes inflammation of the urethra in about 50% of cases in men. Symptoms usually associated with chlamydia include pain or burning while urinating, unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles, or fever. Testing is usually performed by swabbing the penis, but it can also be performed with a urine test.

Gonorrhea: This infection can be passed via vaginal, anal or oral sex. Women can experience mild symptoms, such as increased vaginal discharge or bleeding between periods, while men can experience a burning sensation while urinating and swollen testicals. Many patients may experience no symptoms whatsoever.

[ALSO READ: Women’s Health: Staying Healthy in Your 20s]

Syphilis: This disease has three stages and can lead to death if not properly treated. The Primary stage is the appearance of a painless sore, which disappears within a few weeks with or without treatment. The Secondary stage is a skin rash, along with other symptoms, including a sore throat, headaches, and a fever, all of which will go away with or without treatment. The Latent stages can include dementia, blindness, and damage to the liver, bones, and brain.

HIV: Symptoms for the virus that causes AIDS typically do not appear in patients for 10+ years. Therefore, the only way you can know whether you are infected with HIV is to get tested. Testing for the virus can be performed by a medical professional or via the Oraquick at-home HIV test. The test examines your saliva for antibodies and results can be obtained in about 20 minutes. These tests are sold at drug stores as well as online at oraquick.com.

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