Protect yourself from STDs--Part 3 of 3

I talked to two sexual health experts about the high rates of STDs among young people and the importance of getting tested.

Frank Reed

"STDs are more serious than people think so be aware of them", Frank says.

By Frank Reed, 17, Animo Locke HS #3

I talked to Dr. Sarah Guerry and health educator Ana Delia Hernandez, both from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s STD Program. What stuck out to me the most was hearing that females have a greater chance of getting STDs and that they have more STDs than males. I always thought that guys had more STDs. I realized it’s important to get accurate information because what you believe is not always right. This is part 3 of a 3 part series.

Dr. Sarah Guerry

Dr. Sarah Guerry shows one of the condoms the county STD program hands out for free.

L.A. Youth: How can you tell if you have an STD?
Delia Hernandez
: If you notice anything like pain during urination or you have any kind of discharge from the genital area, those are indicators that there might be an infection.

Guerry: Women are much more likely not to have symptoms but similarly guys who are having anal sex often have zero symptoms at all. If you’re a sexually active teen, you should be going to the doctor at least once a year and getting an STD check, especially if you’re a girl. Women, because of their reproductive tract, have many more complications. So that’s why these recommendations for screening teens, the strongest is around teen girls. And because it’s asymptomatic [shows no symptoms]. Whereas guys know; if they have a drip, they’re going to come in sooner or later.

L.A. Youth: Who’s more likely to get an STD, a guy or a girl?
Guerry
: In general, females have more STDs than guys and this is worldwide. Women are more vulnerable to STDs.

L.A. Youth: Where can teens get tested?
Guerry
: All over L.A. Calling this number [800-758-0880] is a resource. You can enter in your zip code and it does a clinic locator for you. DontThinkKnow.org has a clinic locator that highlights teen-friendly clinics. If you’re a female under the age of 25 and you live in L.A., you can order a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea and it’ll get sent to you at home and you can test yourself. So you don’t even have to go and see a doctor. Unfortunately, at this point we don’t have a home test kit for guys (Check out Teensource’s “Find a Clinic” tab to see where you can get tested!).

Delia Hernandez: We have 11 L.A. County clinics where you can get tested and treated for STDs, free. You don’t even have to make an appointment; it’s a walk-in basis. You can access the clinic phone numbers and addresses online on the L.A. County Dept of Public Health website.

L.A. Youth: What ethnic group has a higher chance of getting an STD?
Guerry:
Well, STDs like everybody. They don’t care who the person is but we’ve seen not only in L.A., but in California and all the nation, that African-American teenagers have much higher rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea than do whites. And then Latina women have at least double the rates of chlamydia than white women do.