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Americans Fail to Understand the Dangers of STDS — While 1 in 4 Americans will be infected with an STD – and up to half of younger adults will bemost of those surveyed believed they were not personally at risk.  “The findings in our survey are quite disturbing…it is troubling that there is such a large portion of people who still feel invincible,” said Dr. J. Allen [pres and CEO of ASHA (Amer Social Health Assoc)].

STDs cause a range of long-term problems. HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, is the main cause of cervical cancer, while bacterial infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause infertility in women. They often have no symptoms and people are often unaware they are infected. Despite not knowing whether their partner had been tested, 93% polled said they were sure their partner did not have an STD. Just over 1 of 3 of those surveyed felt “very knowledgeable” about STDs, compared to 22% who felt they knew a lot about diabetes, asthma or migraines. Sixty-three percent said they were well-informed about the risks associated with sex and 84% said they felt they took the right precautions. But 82% of those who said they were sexually active said they never used protection against STDs for oral sex, 64% never used protection for anal sex and 47 percent never used protection for vaginal sex. Even among single adults, 71 percent used no protection when having oral sex, 42 percent never protected against an STD when having anal sex and 23 percent always had unprotected vaginal sex. STDs including the AIDS virus, gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are transmitted orally, anally and vaginally. The survey also found Americans ignorant of the risks of hepatitis A, B and C, all of which can be transmitted sexually. The group said hepatitis A and B cause more than 170,000 infections each year in the USA alone, killing 5,000 people a year. “One in every 4 Americans will contract an STD sometime in their lifetime,” the group said. In 2/04, Advocates for Youth (which pushes sex education & “safe” sex) and the Alan Guttmacher Institute  [research arm for Planned Parenthood] published a report that said 27 million young Americans under the age of 25 were sexually active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)notes there were 18.9 million new cases of STDs in 2000, of which 9.1 million or 48% were among teens and adults aged 15 to 24. That means one-third of all sexually active young adults and teens contracted an STD in 2000 alone. [The non-profit group, which promotes awareness about STDs, polled 1,155 adults aged 18-35 interviewed by [Harris Interactive]. Margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. 6Apr04, American Social Health Assoc, Reuters Health, Abst Clringhse, 7Apr04]