Be Safe---Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Key Message for Veterans: Protect yourself and your loved ones by staying safe. Use prevention practices when it comes to sex. See your doctor to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases or infections, and get treatment if you need it.
Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- You can protect yourself from STIs by not having sex.
- If you do have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral), you should use a latex condom every time, especially if you think that you or your partner might be infected.
- Lowering your number of sexual partners can also lower your chances of getting an infection.
- When you and your partner only have sex with each other, you lower your chances of getting STIs.
- STIs can be passed from a pregnant mom to the baby.
- Pregnant women should get tested for STIs, and if any of the tests are positive they should get treated as soon as possible so that they don’t pass the infection to the baby.
- Be careful. A lot of STIs don’t have any symptoms, so you may be sick and not really know it. Talk to your doctor if you have any concern that you might have an STI.
- STIs can be cured with antibiotics. It’s important that you get an STI treated. Otherwise, you can get serious problems like infertility.
- It’s not just about you. If you get treated for an STI, your partner should get treated too, to keep everyone safe and sound.
1) How to use a condom: The DOs and DON’Ts
- DO use only latex condoms.
- DO keep condoms in a cool and dry place.
- DO use lubricant with latex condoms to keep them from tearing. Don’t use the oil-based ones.
- DO hold the condom in place before pulling out after sex.
- DON'T use expired condoms.
- DON'T unroll a condom before putting it on.
- DON'T leave condoms in places that can get overheated. This includes your wallet.
- DON'T use your teeth to open a condom wrapper. You can tear the condom this way.
- DON'T use spermicide called nonoxynol-9 ("N-9"). It can cause skin tears that increase your chances of getting STIs.
Should you get tested?
- The answer is yes. Public health experts now recommend routine HIV testing for all adults.
Are Veterans in the VA being tested?
- The VA recommends voluntary HIV testing for all veterans receiving medical care, even if you don’t think you have any risk factors.
- Only 30% of veterans have gotten an HIV test. Tell your doctor you want to get tested. Make sure to bring it up at your medical visit.
3) Getting Tested
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are STIs that you can get through sex.
- The chlamydia test can be done with a urine sample. It’s easy and painless.
- The gonorrhea test can also be done with a urine sample.
- The syphilis test can be done with a blood test.
- All About Condoms. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2014, from http://www.ashastd.org/std-sti/condoms.html
- Get Tested for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2014, from http://www.healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/hiv-and-other-stds/get-tested-for-chlamydia-gonorrhea-and-syphilis#the-basics_1
- HIV/AIDS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2014, from http://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/testing/single-page.asp
- National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2014, from http://www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Be_Safe.asp
Who do you call if you have questions about this or other Healthy Living Messages?
- Your Primary Care Provider/PACT Team
- Northport VAMC Health Promotion Disease Prevention Coordinators
- Joanne D. Taylor, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist and the Health Behavior Coordinator for the Northport VAMC.
- Mary F. Cavanagh, MD, MPH is a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Physician and the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Manager.
Drs. Taylor and Cavanagh work closely with patients and Medical Center staff to promote patient centered care with an emphasis on prevention.