As we celebrate STI Awareness Month, we think that it’s important to highlight the STIs (sometimes called, STDs) that affect teens and youth. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most commonly reported STIs in the United States impacting youth ages 15 - 24. We would like to navigate you through learning about chlamydia and gonorrhea, how to get tested, and how to talk to your partner about engaging in safer sex (getting tested, using condoms, etc).
The Growing Concern
Chlamydia and gonorrhea, often occur together, and are spread through sexual contact such as anal, oral, and vaginal sex. Sexually active young people are at a higher risk of getting these infections. In the United States, two-thirds of new chlamydial infections occur among youth aged 15 - 24. In 2018, KidsData.org provided STI rates specific to youth in California. There were 789 chlamydia cases per 100,000 youth aged 10 - 19 and 133 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 youth aged 10 - 19. Many factors contribute to such high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among youth including the lack of inclusive sex education, the biological makeup of growing youth, and the environment a young person is in. Here’s what you can do prevent and treat chlamydia and gonorrhea:
Engage in Safe Sex
- The best way to protect yourself against STIs is abstinence, or not having sex. If you have multiple partners, are having sex with someone who has an STI, or do not have sex with condoms, you are at a higher risk of getting an infection. It is best to use a barrier method to reduce spread of infection. By learning how to correctly use a barrier method, you can reduce exposure to all STIs.
- As a teen in California, getting tested is 100% confidential! Your parent or guardian does not have to know that you got tested for STIs, visited a clinic during school hours, or were treated for an STI. To learn more about your rights as a teen click here, or visit this blog.
- The sooner you get tested, the better. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily cured, but if untreated for a long time can lead to long term health issues such as Pelvic Inflammatory disease or infertility. Here’s some of your options:
- Find a Clinic near you for an in - person visit
- You can have a phone or video call with your health provider
- You can get a free home STI test sent to you in a discrete envelope
- It is possible to test positive for both chlamydia and gonorrhea or just one. If you test positive, it is important to get treated. Treatment for STIs is confidential and free. Ask the clinic or health care provider what your treatment options are and make sure to follow the directions you are given.
- If you test positive for Chlamydia or Gonorrhea there are also options for you to get treatment for your partner. This is sometimes called partner treatment. Learn more about the options for your partner here.
Talk With Your Partner
- You may not know how to bring up the conversation of getting tested or having safe sex with your partner.
- Here are some things you can say to communicate your feelings about sex to your partner.
Getting an STI, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea is not the end. These infections can be cured. As a sexually active teen, it is important to get regularly tested and retested after being treated for an STI. Remember that engaging in safe sex, talking to your partner, and being in tune with your sexual health can help prevent and treat STIs.