Safer Sex - Topic Overview Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread by
sexual contact involving the genitals, mouth, or rectum, and can also be spread
from a pregnant woman to her fetus before or during delivery. STIs, which
affect both men and women, are a worldwide public health concern.
Although most STIs can be cured, some cannot, including
HIV (which causes
genital herpes, and
human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause
STIs can be spread by
people who don't know they are infected. Always use protection every time you
have sex, including oral sex, until you are sure you and your partner are not
infected with an STI.
If you are in a relationship, delay having
sex until you are physically and emotionally prepared, have agreed to only have
sex with each other, and have both been tested for STIs.
Abstinence as prevention
sexual contact (abstinence), including intercourse and oral sex, is the only
certain way to prevent an infection.
Discuss safer sex with your partner
before you have sex with someone. Even though a sex partner doesn't have
symptoms of an STI, he or she may still be infected.
ask someone before having sex include:
How many people have you had sex
with? Have you had sex without a condom? Have you ever
had unprotected oral sex? Have you had more than one sex partner
at a time? Do you inject illegal drugs or have you had sex with
someone who injects drugs? Have you ever had unprotected sex with a
prostitute? Have you had a test for HIV? What were the
results? Have you ever had an STI, including
hepatitis B or
hepatitis C? Was it treated and cured?