Written by: Sahara Stevens, Talon Staff Reporter
Diseases have been around since the beginning of time, yet it seems like there are more diseases in recent times than ever before. They can be transmitted through direct contact, indirect contact, droplet contact, airborne transmission, fecal-oral transmission, and vector-borne transmission (animals). A kind of direct contact disease can be sexually transmitted, and many people around the world suffer from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). The most common STD’s are: HIV/AIDS, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Syphilis. STD’s are serious concerns with the increasing number of teenagers who are becoming sexually active.
Out of all of the diseases in the world, HIV/AIDS is the sixth deadliest disease with 1.5 million deaths in 2013. HIV or Human Immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks the immune system. The virus attacks and kills the white blood cells that fight off infections.Once the virus destroys a large portion of the cells, the body can no longer recover from infections. At this stage HIV turns into AIDS. AIDS, which is short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a life-threatening condition. Transmission of the virus occurs during unprotected sex, through sharing needles that are using to inject intravenous drugs, and can also be spread from mother to infant during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. In 2013, 9,961 teens were diagnosed with HIV infection and 2,704 were diagnosed with AIDS. African American, gay, and bisexual men account for majority of the number of HIV/AIDS infections. Alcohol and drugs can influence the want for risky behavior-increasing the chances of receiving the disease.
There are the facts, but what can a teen do to keep themselves safe from the disease? Teens can:
- Get facts about HIV and learn their risks.
- Get tested for HIV (if sexually active).
- Talk with parents, teachers, doctors, and other trusted adults about STD’s, drugs, and alcohol.
- Resist the pressure to engage in dangerous activities, as well as do not pressure others to engage.
- Remain abstinent, limit number of partners, use a condom, or stop having sex.
- Participate in HIV prevention programs, share information with family and friends, and support other youth in prevention.
- If a teen has HIV: get support, seek treatment, and refrain from spreading the disease to other youth and or adults.
Parents can also help by supporting youth, creating awareness about HIV/AIDS, ask about testing, and create a safe environment for youth.
Diseases are real and can be transmitted easily and without people knowing they have contacted one. Precautionary measures can be taken to prevent and the safest ways are abstinence and the use of condoms. Condoms not only prevent against infections and diseases, but pregnancy as well. Life is freeing and enjoyable, don’t let a disease stop you or someone you know.