How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health concern in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are estimated to be 110 million infections in the U.S. today, with 20 million new infections occurring each year. So what's been happening with STD rates over the last few years? Have they been rising or falling? And is the pattern similar or different across various infections? For a look at the data, check out the infographic below, which includes selected figures complied from the CDC's website.

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How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

A reader submitted the following question: 

“I have had one sexual partner and contracted herpes from him. Though I haven't had sex in 5-7 years and no recurrence of symptoms, I am scared about it recurring and giving it to a partner who will freak out on me and curse me. I want to get married, but I am never going to be comfortable telling my partner about having this infection. What do you think I can do so that recurrence doesn’t occur and I can enjoy condom free sex with my partner?”

Thank you for sending in this question. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—in fact, the CDC estimates that about 16% of the U.S. population has it. As a result, you are far from the only one out there who wants to know more about how to manage this infection, especially in the context of a relationship with a partner who doesn’t have it.

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Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

A reader submitted the following question:

“Is it necessary to use condoms/dental dams for oral sex? What if it is not used? Does that guarantee transmission of sexually transmitted infections?”

Thanks for this great question! Oral sex has become a very common sexual activity in the Western world. For instance, most U.S. adults under age 50 say that they have given and/or received oral sex in the past year in the form of fellatio or cunnilingus, a number that has increased significantly during the past few decades.

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HIV-Prevention Medications Also Protect Against Genital Herpes

HIV-Prevention Medications Also Protect Against Genital Herpes

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP for short) has been in the news a lot lately. In case you are not familiar, PrEP refers to a new method of HIV prevention. Uninfected individuals simply take a medicine known as Truvada daily (Truvada is a combination of two different drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine). This is actually the same medication used to treat people who are HIV-positive—and it works for them by dramatically lowering the level of the virus in the body (to be clear, this is not a cure--but it does help extend the life of an HIV-positive person significantly). However, when taken by someone who is uninfected, this drug appears to be effective at preventing the virus from ever taking hold. In fact, some studies have found that among individuals who take this drug consistently, their risk of contracting HIV is reduced by as much as 92%! A new study suggests that PrEP may have the positive side effect of protecting against other sexually transmitted infections as well.

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Sex Question Friday: Is “Rimming” Safe?

Sex Question Friday: Is “Rimming” Safe?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know:

“Is rimming safe?”

In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with the term “rimming,” what we’re talking about here is oral stimulation of the anus (also known as anilingus).

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Six Myths About Sexually Transmitted Infections Debunked

Although most people are sexually active, it is surprising how little some people seem to know about sex. In particular, there are a multitude of myths and misconceptions about the topic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Below, we will review six of the most persistent false beliefs about STIs.
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Fact Check: Do Condoms Actually Increase STD Risk For Porn Performers?

“The shortest porn scenes require an absolute minimum of ‘half an hour of hard thrusting by a well-endowed young man. It's hard enough to deal with [without] condoms. Add latex to the mix and I'm down to being able to work with a man once a week at best, to say nothing of the damage it would do to my private life and intimacy with my husband.’” – Porn actress Nina Hartley on the use of condoms in pornography

Next month, voters in California will decide whether to enact a law requiring pornography performers to wear condoms during films in an attempt to reduce their risk of contracting and spreading HIV and other STIs. This issue has stoked a lot of controversy and has generated a number of articles and opinion pieces arguing both for and against the ballot measure. One article in particular, entitled “Why Porn Sex is the Safest Sex,” caught my attention, and not just for its provocative title (which stems from a quote by porn actor James Deen who argued that “the safest sex you can have is in the adult film business”). If you read the entire article, it goes on to suggest that use of condoms during porn actually makes the performers less safe. Needless to say, I thought this claim merited a fact check.

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Should Men Be Circumcised To Reduce STDs And Save On Healthcare Costs?

The debate over male circumcision was revived last month with the publication of two controversial journal articles. First, the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published an article concluding that if male circumcision rates continue to fall in the U.S. over the next decade, we will end up spending $4.4 billion more on health care due to a projected increase in sexually transmitted infections {1}. The article estimates that fewer circumcisions would result in double digit percentage increases in men infected with HIV, herpes, and the human papillomavirus, as well as corresponding increases in such infections for their (assumed) female partners. Second, the journal Pediatrics published a policy statement on male circumcision in which they concluded that the benefits of the procedure far outweigh the risks {2}. What I would like to do in this post is share my thoughts on circumcision based on my own reading of the science in this area.
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