STIs are infections that are easily spread through sexual or intimate physical contact. Many people who have STIs are unaware that they do. They may look outwardly healthy but could have an STI. A sexual partner who has a STI may not always inform the other partner that they have one. Some STIs are curable, others can only be treated.
STIs may include HIV, HPV, genital warts, herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis, etc.
All youth have the right to access age-appropriate medically accurate information about the prevention and treatment of STIs. A caregiver can inform youth that STIs may be prevented through the use of condoms. Also, a vaccination against the STI, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), is available and may protect against some strains of HPV. If a caregiver is uncomfortable discussing this topic with a youth, they should direct them to reliable sources of information.
For more information about STIs, link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• About half of all young people will contract an STI before their 25th birthday—which means half will not, encourage your youth to be one of that half!
• Ten million new STI’s reported were among young people aged 15-24 in 2016.
• Young people (aged 13-24) account for an estimated 21% of all new HIV diagnoses. We will talk more later about PEP and PrEP!
• 54% of chlamydia cases were people under 25
• Many STI’s do not present symptoms, but can still cause long-term health problems, Including sterilization.
Testing is key to reducing damage and limiting the spread of infection.
Again, these are the very basic facts about sexually transmitted infections. Fear-based prevention attempts don’t seem to work very well. We can do better by helping young people access the care they need and encouraging them with information to help them make informed and safer decisions.
STI rates are almost twice a high in the foster youth population than in youth their same age who are not in care. STIs are a serious issue for all young people, but especially for youth in care. Ensuring access to information and services by consistently assessing for and removing barriers is crucial.
To learn more about STI’s, contraception and finding resources please click on this link to watch CalSWEC video on Finding Resources, Safer Sex and Contraception