Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are easily prevented, using several different methods. Considering the power of the human sex drive and the severity of some STIs, it is of prime importance that as many people as possible worldwide understand at least the basics of protection. This does sometimes involve expelling superstitious myths about procreation.
STIs are transmitted not only during sexual intercourse, but by any touching of genital areas to genital areas, as well as the mouth to genital areas.
While protection against STIs is easy, it isn’t quite as easy as protection against pregnancy: spermicides don’t kill viruses or bacteria, for example. Only the following methods are commonly used to successfully prevent the transmission of STIs.
Condoms are by far the most common way to avoid getting an STI. Male condoms, which cover most of the penis, and female condoms, which are inserted into the vagina and extend outward to act as a barrier between the outer genetalia of the partners involved, are great barriers against disease.
Condoms protect against the most devastating form of STI: AIDS and HIV. They protect against gonorrhea, chlamydia, and the human papilloma virus – that’s the virus that causes genital warts.
It’s important for people to know that condoms only protect the parts of the genitals covered by them. This means that any uncovered warts or other symptoms remain contagious, as do pubic lice (or ‘crabs’).
Male condoms are the most common form of STI protection. When using a condom, be sure it isn’t expired, that the package has not been pre-opened, and that any lubrication is water-based, not oil-based, so as not to degrade the latex.
Vaccinations are available for some types of viral STI, including hepatitis and HPV.
Another way to avoid STIs is by making sure your partner has been tested for them. Don’t worry about being offensive – chlamydia is more offensive than the question, “Would you get tested, please?”
Abstinence would be a phenominally effective way to prevent STIs too, if people didn’t have such a nasty habit of getting frisky. For those few who manage to remain abstinent, congratulations: you have nearly a zero-per-cent chance of catching an STI.
For those who really don’t want to give up the fun, “abstinence only” education can have the opposite effect, actually increasing the chance of infection by STI.
Those who have been only been told, “don’t have sex,” don’t know about other methods of prevention, like condoms and vaccines. If they do know about other methods, they are sometimes told that such methods, like condoms, are actually somehow dangerous or unhealthy.
In the end, abstinence-only education can end up worse for a person’s health than no education at all. The very best way to prevent STIs in a population is to educate the population: people need to know what sexually transmitted viruses, parasites and bacteria are, how transmission can be prevented by the sexually active, and how such preventative measure actually work.