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Every year over 18 million new cases of STDs occur. In the United States, one in four teens will be diagnosed with an STD this year and more than half of all people will be diagnosed with an STD in their lifetime. Left untreated, these STDs can cause infertility, cancer, blindness and even death. Fortunately, STDs are preventable and there are a number of ways to avoid them.

Abstinence or “Waiting”

The simplest way of preventing STDs is by not having sex. For many people, however, abstinence is not a permanent solution, so a more accurate term might be “waiting.” Many people decide to wait, or delay sex, until conditions are right for them. Some people wait until they are older. Some people wait until they meet “the right person.” Some people wait until they know their partner better. And some people wait until marriage. Whatever the reason, a person who is not having sex is not at risk for an STD.

Monogamy or Being Faithful

If a person is sexually active, having a partner that is mutually faithful and uninfected can help avoid STDs. If one or both partners has had other partners in the past, then they should be tested for STDs.


Male latex condoms can reduce the risk of getting an STI if used correctly (see the box below). Be sure to use them every time you have sex. Female condoms can also be used as an alternative to a male condom.


Some STDs, such as hepatitis B and certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause genital warts and cervical cancer, can be prevented through the use of vaccines.

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