April is STI Awareness Month and a great time to educate yourself on sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also commonly called STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases). Did you know that STIs are extremely common in New Jersey? In 2020, there were over 40,000 cases reported.
The good news is STIs are preventable. Many STIs can be cured and all can be treated. Here are some ways to keep yourself and your partner healthy.
The best way to avoid STIs is to stay completely abstinent. This means not having any form of sex, whether it be vaginal, oral or anal.
Of course, we know that this isn’t always a realistic scenario! However, it’s possible to be intimate with someone without having sex. Try talking to, kissing and planning other fun activities with your partner instead of having sex. This can also strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Talk With Your Partner
Getting tested for STIs can protect your and your partners’ health. Talking with your partner about getting tested is an important step in having an honest and healthy relationship, whether you’ve made the choice to stay abstinent or are choosing to practice safer sex. These conversations are key when it comes to building a strong sense of connection and communication with your partner.
Take PrEP For HIV
If you are at increased risk for contracting HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication prescribed to reduce your risk. PrEP is highly effective when taken as prescribed, and can reduce your risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.
An NJFPL healthcare provider can give you more information about whether or not PrEP is right for you and how it can help you prevent HIV.
Get the HPV Vaccine
Vaccines are a safe, effective and recommended way to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens ages 11 or 12 and everyone through age 26, if not vaccinated already.
Talk with your NJFPL healthcare provider for more information about the HPA vaccine and whether it or not it’s right for you.
Have Fewer Partners
Having fewer sex partners may help reduce your risk of STIs. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to get an STI and pass it on to another partner.
Condoms will reduce your risk for HIV and other STIs if you use them correctly. If you or your partner doesn’t know how to use a condom correctly, don’t worry, it’s easy to learn! Check out our blog on how to put on a condom, contact your local health center for more information or check out these helpful tips from the CDC on how to use condoms the right way.
NJFPL provider health centers provide affordable and accessible STI testing and treatment. Finding a health center near you is easy. There is at least one in every county of New Jersey, and the services are low or no-cost. If you are experiencing symptoms of an STI or are sexually active and want to get tested, contact your local healthcare provider right away. Find the NJFPL-supported health center that is closest or most convenient to you and call to set up your appointment.