What are Sexually transmitted diseases? STDs are diseases that are passed from person to person during sexual contact (vaginal, anal and oral). Examples include: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papilloma virus, herpes, and HIV. HIV can also be passed by sharing injection drug equipment (needles, syringes, works), and from mother to baby during pregnancy.
Untreated STDs can cause cancer, blindness, infertility (you cannot become pregnant), birth defects if you are pregnant, and even death.
KNOW YOUR STATUS - Testing options
STDs and HIV are treatable, so don’t wait. If you think you may have been exposed, get tested - call the Detroit STD/HIV clinic: 313-577-9100 for an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome, and no one will be turned away if they are unable to pay. The clinic provides confidential (your information cannot be shared with anyone else) services to people 13 years and older. Or, to find the clinic closest to you, click here.
PROTECT YOURSELF - Be in control of your future
STDs & HIV are preventable. People can get STD/HIV by having sex (oral, anal, or vaginal) with an infected person. People often have no symptoms and so have no idea they are even infected. Some STDs, like genital herpes and HPV (the virus that causes warts, cervical and other cancers) can be passed skin to skin.
Here are some choices you can make to protect yourself:
- You can choose not to have sex (abstain) from, oral, vaginal or anal sex. This is the only sure way to not get an STD or HIV from someone that is infected, and to not get (someone) pregnant.
- If you are having sex, or thinking about it, the choices below can protect you.
- Talk with your partner about safer sex practices beforehand. For some ideas on how to start talking about it. See more here. Your partner should always respect your right to say no to anything that does not feel right to you.
- Having less sexual partners reduces your risk for an STD or HIV. If you have a new sex partner, or more than one sex partner, your risk for STD/HIV is higher. If you meet someone new, think about getting tested together first.
- Being monogamous (having sex with one person that only has sex with you) with a partner that is not infected, can also reduce your risk for exposure.
- Condoms, used correctly, every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex will protect you from most STDs and HIV. To learn how to use a male condom correctly click here.
- Herpes, warts, and the viruses that cause them can be on the skin not covered by a condom, and so can still be passed skin to skin. So even if you don’t “go all the way” (having vaginal, anal or oral sex), there is still some risk with skin to skin contact.
- Birth control shots, pills, implants, IUDs and other methods that prevent pregnancy only prevent pregnancy. They do not prevent STDs or HIV.
- PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis (before exposure prevention) is a pill that can reduce your risk of getting HIV by 90%, if taken every day.
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis (after exposure prevention) can be taken if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days. PEP can prevent HIV, but must be started within 72 hours / 3 days of the exposure. Talk with a healthcare provider right away, call 313-577-9100. See CDC’s PEP 101 factsheet.
- Drugs and alcohol can cause you to take risks you would not have made without them, like not using a condom or having sex with someone you would not normally have chosen. Avoid using alcohol or drugs, especially in places or at events that may not be safe, or when you are with people that may not have your best interests in mind.
- If you inject drugs, there are services available for all of the following at Community Health Awareness Group (CHAG) call: 313-963-3434 for more information.
- Needle exchange,
- Substance abuse counseling and treatment,
- HIV/STD & Hepatitis C testing,
- as well as other related services.
- Other prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
Other viruses can be passed through sex – like Zika virus. Use condoms or abstain from sex (oral, vaginal or anal) when you or your partner travel to a tropical area (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Central or South America and other tropical countries in Africa and the South Pacific), and when you or your partner return from a tropical country -- especially if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. **Zika can cause serious birth defects. Learn more and find out how long you should continue to use condoms or abstain.