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Health Myths: Get the Facts

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs and HIV/AIDS)

Myth: If you don't have any symptoms, you don't have a sexually transmitted disease/sexually transmitted infection (STD/STI).

Fact: Many STDs/STIs are asymptomatic- without signs or symptoms- while serious damage is being done to a woman's reproductive organs. The only way to know for sure if you are or are not infected is to be tested. If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted infection or if your sexual partner has symptoms, you can go to your doctor or health department for testing. Talk with a knowledgeable health care provider or counselor both before and after you are tested.

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

The following STDs may be asymptomatic:

Bacterial Vaginosis
http://www.cdc.gov/std/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm

Chlamydia
http://www.cdc.gov/std/Chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm

Gonorrhea
http://www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/STDFact-Gonorrhea.htm

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
http://www.cdc.gov/std/hiv/STDFact-STD&HIV.htm

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm

Syphilis
http://www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm

Trichomoniasis
http://www.cdc.gov/std/Trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm

Smoking and Tobacco

Myth: Low-tar or light cigarettes are not as harmful as regular cigarettes.

Fact: There is no safe tobacco product. The use of any tobacco product can cause cancer and other adverse health effects. This includes all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and spit tobacco; mentholated, "low-tar," "naturally grown," or "additive-free." The poisonous ingredients in cigarettes aren't just limited to tar and nicotine. A typical cigarette contains lead, ammonia (a household cleaner), arsenic (used in rat poison), benzene (used in making gas), butane gas, carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas), DDT (a banned insecticide), and polonium 210 (cancer-causing radioactive element). To reduce your risk for lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and reproductive health problems, avoid all tobacco products and exposure to second-hand smoke.

Light Cigarettes Myth
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/christy/myth6.htm

Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/sgr_forwomen/

Violence

Myth: Rape doesn't happen very often.

Fact: Rape and attempted rape happen more often than you may think. According to the National Violence against Women survey, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the United States have experienced an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knew the perpetrator. The first step in preventing sexual violence is to identify and understand vulnerability factors. A vulnerability factor is anything that increases the likelihood that a person will suffer harm. Vulnerability factors for sexual violence include: young age, drug or alcohol use, prior history of sexual violence, multiple sex partners, and poverty.

Sexual Violence
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/SV/default.htm

Sexual Violence: Prevention Strategies and Links
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/svprevention.htm

The Truth about Rape
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/The%20Truth%20About%20Rape%20Final.pdf

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WebMD Public Information from the CDC

Reviewed on July 24, 2008

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