Yes, yes, yes, you should be very concerned about Ebola... if you've traveled to Liberia recently. (Or know someone who has.) But you should be very concerned about STDs... if you've had sex recently. Especially if you're not in a long-term, monogamous relationship with someone who would never cheat on you (and, sorry folks, there's no guarantee of this in life).
We're going to go out on a limb here and say that a lot more of you have had sex than have been to Liberia. Yes? In which case, below are five infectious diseases you should focus on instead. Because more than half of all of us will get at least one STD at some point in our lives.
So remember: Practice safer sex, and get tested regularly, by your doctor, or at your local Planned Parenthood Health Center. Oh, and get a flu shot, too! Because that's one thing that's definitely more likely to kill Americans than Ebola this year.
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is massively "popular" in this country (you probably have it, actually), and it's a tricky little STD: it takes a second to contract, but a lifetime to understand. So check out the easy-to-digest video we made that tells you everything you need to know about HPV.
Got herpes? You might. More than one in five Americans is infected and less than a third of them know it. This is in part because it is so easily spread, even when there are no visible symptoms. Yowza! Browse all of our posts on herpes here to learn more.
3. HIV & AIDS
The biggie. The grand poobah. The mother lode. The leader of the pack. The only STD in history to get its own Broadway musical. The scary monster that really could be under your bed. It might seem like old news, and this is bad news, because old news usually means new nonchalance. And about 1 in 6 people with HIV don't know they are infected, after all. Read up on HIV & AIDS at Planned Parenthood.
4. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Not an STD in itself, this is rather a common and serious complication of some STDs -- it develops when an infection (usually untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea) spreads up from the vagina and cervix into the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. More than one million U.S. women get PID every year. Often, there are no symptoms, and, left untreated, it can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. Read more at Planned Parenthood.
5. Chlamydia & Gonorrhea
Yes, chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treated and cured, but the symptoms for these two STDs can be easily missed, or easily mistaken for something else, like a yeast infection. And if you don't treat these two, they can both cause serious complications, especially in women (see PID, above). Read more about the complications of these two STDs at Planned Parenthood.
... So, next booty call, or next one-night stand, or next time you sleep with someone new, think about asking them to discuss their sexual history -- when they were last tested, what STDs they have had or still have, if they always use condoms, etc. And then, only then, may you ask them if they've traveled to Liberia recently!MORE LIKE THIS ON EMandLO.com
- Top 10 Sex Tips for College Students
- When Your Booty Call Wants to Ditch the Condoms
- 10 Things I Learned from an Anti-Condom Boyfriend