How Common are the Most Common STDs?

by edralyn on January 9, 2013

Tense couple

If you’ve ever contracted an STD, you know how embarrassing it can be. This is part of the reason why most people don’t think of STDs as being as common as they are – people who have or have had these diseases don’t want to talk about it! But how common are the different kinds of STDs exactly? Which is the most common? The answer can depend on your age, gender, sexual history, sexual orientation, or a number of other factors. The CDC reports that an average of 15 million sexually transmitted diseases are contracted every year. A majority of the cases are young people – in fact, about half of them will get an STD by the time they turn 25. These are some of the diseases you could be at risk for, and how likely your partners are to carry them.

1. Chlamydia

The most common STD in the U.S. is chlamydia. It affects around 3 million people per year, most of them sexually active young women or teenagers. One of the reasons it’s so common is because many people have no symptoms or don’t see symptoms for up to a month after infection, at which time they can experience discharge and a burning sensation when they urinate. The good news is that it’s easily treated with antibiotics.

2. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is very similar to chlamydia, only slightly less common. About 700,000 people get gonorrhea a year. It’s also a bacterial infection that is easily treated with antibiotics and also primarily found in young women, though young men in their early twenties are at risk as well. If you are under 25 and sexually active, you are most at risk for gonorrhea and chlamydia. And if you’re a woman, these conditions can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility.

3. Genital Herpes

You may have heard horror stories about how common genital herpes is in America. It’s true that over 15 percent of adults have the disease, and it affects a much wider group of people than most STDs. Again, women are more likely to have it, because it’s easier to transmit to a woman than a man. Many people don’t know they have herpes, and it can be a dangerous risk because it is an incurable, lifelong condition that can leave you taking daily medication to suppress outbreaks.

4. Hepatitis B

The onset of the Hepatitis B vaccine for children has eliminated a lot of risk, but around 40,000 new cases of HBV occur every year. Many adults are on the recommendation list for the vaccine, including anyone with multiple sex partners and homosexual men. It’s not as common as it once was, but there are still 1.5 million people living with the chronic form of the disease, which can damage your liver and cause cancer.

5. HIV

In the past two decades, medical science, sex education, and social movements have done an amazing job at containing HIV. Not only is it easier to treat, it is much less common. But 50,000 cases of HIV are still diagnosed every year, and it is still an incurable disease that attacks your immune system and shortens your life, especially if left untreated so it develops into AIDS.

It’s easy to see patterns with STDs – the more serious ones are less common, but the impact they have on your life make diagnosing them just as important. Among more common STDs, young women are usually the majority of cases – though almost all of these women are infected by men. If you have multiple sex partners, you are probably at greater risk for an STD than you think, which is why getting tested is never a thing of the past.

John Martin writes for healthcare blogs. If you’re in Philadelphia and are concerned about your sexual health, find Philadelphia locations for std testing.

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