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STD Prevention Today

Having the latest information and resources to assist your prevention efforts is critical. Despite the fact that a great deal of progress has been made in STD prevention over the past four decades, the United States has the highest rates of STD infection in the industrialized world, making prevention as important as ever. The links below provide tips for reducing STD infection.

Preventing STD Infection
Reducing Your Risk of STD Infection
Prevention and the CDC
Featured CDC STD Prevention Information


Preventing STD Infection

The most reliable ways to avoid becoming infected with or transmitting STDs are:

  • Abstain from sexual intercourse (i.e., oral, vaginal, or anal sex)
  • Be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner

Latex male condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of chlamydia (1), gonorrhea (2), and trichomoniasis. (3)



Reducing Your Risk of STD Infection

All partners should get tested for HIV and other STDs before initiating sexual intercourse. However, if you decide to be sexually active with a partner whose infection status is unknown or who is infected with HIV or another STD, you can reduce your risk of contracting an STD:

  • Ask a new sex partner if he or she has an STD, has been exposed to one, or has any unexplained physical symptoms. Do not have unprotected sex if your partner has signs or symptoms of STDs, such as sores, rashes, or discharge from the genital area. Many common STDs have no symptoms but can still be transmitted to a sexual partner. If your partner has had sexual relations with someone else recently, he or she may have an STD, even if there are no symptoms.
  • Use a new condom for each act of insertive intercourse. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms and other barriers can reduce the risk of transmission only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected.
  • Get regular checkups for STDs (even if you show no symptoms), and be familiar with the common symptoms. Most STDs are readily treated, and the earlier treatment is sought and sex partners are notified, the less likely the disease will do irreparable damage.


Prevention and the CDC

The Division of STD Prevention, part of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, coordinates CDC's STD prevention efforts. These efforts include providing national leadership through research, policy development, and support of effective services to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV infection) and their complications, such as enhanced HIV transmission, infertility, adverse outcomes of pregnancy, and reproductive tract cancer.

CDC's STD Prevention Strategy
The prevention and control of STDs is based on the following five major concepts:

  • Education and counseling of persons at risk on ways to adopt safer sexual behavior
  • Identification of infected persons--with or without symptoms--unlikely to seek diagnostic and treatment services
  • Effective diagnosis and treatment of infected persons
  • Evaluation, treatment, and counseling of sex partners of persons who are infected with an STD
  • Pre-exposure vaccination of persons at risk for vaccine-preventable STDs

Primary prevention of STDs begins with changing the sexual behaviors that place persons at risk for infection. Moreover, because STD control activities reduce the likelihood of transmission to sex partners, treatment of infected persons constitutes primary prevention of spread within the community.

To enact its strategy, CDC is assisting health departments, healthcare providers, and nongovernmental organizations, and collaborating with other governmental entities, through:

  • The development, syntheses, translation, and dissemination of timely, science-based information
  • The development of national goals and science-based policy
  • The development and support of science-based programs that meet the needs of communities

As the lead agency for STD prevention in the United States, CDC will continue to improve both biomedical and behavioral strategies to combat STDs. Clearly, multiple strategies are required to maintain and improve progress in prevention.



Featured CDC STD Prevention Information

Integrated Prevention Services for HIV Infection, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis for Persons Who Use Drugs Illicitly: Summary Guidance from CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
From CDC's MMWR Recommendations and Reports; November 9, 2012 / 61(rr05);1-40

STD Awareness Resource Site
From CDC

Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel
From CDC

Safe in the City (video-based waiting room intervention)
From CDC's Division of STD Prevention

2012 National STD Prevention Conference (conference presentations online)
From CDC's Division of STD Prevention

Ask the Experts: HPV
From the Immunization Action Coalition

For additional prevention campaign resources and tools, please visit NPIN’s Social Marketing and Education Campaigns page.



1 CDC. Chlamydia, Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013. [cited 2013 April 4]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm.
2 CDC. Gonorrhea, Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013. [cited 2013 April 4]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea.htm.
3 CDC. Trichomoniasis, Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012. [cited 2013 April 4]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/std/Trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm.




Page Last Updated: March 31, 2014

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