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Sexual Health & Pregnancy

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (also called STIs or STDs) are easily passed around from one person to another through sexual contact. If you're having sex or fooling around you need to know how to protect yourself and others.

teens in front of locker Do you know the facts about chlamydia or gonorrhea and genital herpes?

What's the difference between human papillomavirus(HPV)—also called genital warts and human immunodeficiency virus(HIV/AIDS)?

Would you know if you had pubic "crab" lice or trichomoniasis?

How can hepatitis A and B or syphilis be passed from one person to another?

See our glossary of sexual health terms




A sexually transmitted disease or infection (STI) is an infection you can get during:
  • Vaginal Sex: The penis enters the vagina
  • Oral Sex: The mouth makes contact with
    the vagina, penis, or anus
  • Anal Sex: The penis enters the behind/anus
  • Touching each other's private areas/
    intimate touching:
    You can get certain STIs
    through genital-to-genital skin contact



Some Facts
  • All untreated STIs increase the chance of someone
    contracting HIV.


  • STIs are common in young people. Teens make
    up more than 1 in 4 diagnosed STI cases in
    New York City.


  • More than 10,000 teen women were diagnosed with
    chlamydia in 2007, up 26% from 2006.


  • More than 2,300 teenagers were diagnosed with
    gonorrhea in 2007.


  • HIV diagnoses are rising in men who have sex with men younger than 30, mostly among blacks and Hispanics. Cases are up 43% in this group since 2001.



Some Helpful Tips 

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Chlamydia/Gonorrhea
  • These are bacterial STIs that are passed through vaginal/anal sex. They can also be passed from the throat to the genitals during oral sex. Both infections are completely curable with antibiotics.

  • In Males:, untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to…
    • Swollen, painful testes (balls)
    • The building of scar tissue in the sperm duct, preventing the man from being able to make a woman pregnant
    • Most men have no symptoms, but possible symptoms include:
      • Unusual discharge from the urethra (opening of the penis
      • Burning sensation upon urination
      • Pain in the scrotum (skin that holds testicles)


  • In females, untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), which can scar the fallopian tubes and often makes it impossible for a woman to have children. Symptoms may include:
    • Unusual discharge, i.e. fluid that women notice in their underwear (different color, odor)

    • Burning sensation upon urination

    • Pain during sex/pain in the lower stomach area

  • Most females and some males who have chlamydia or gonorrhea have NO symptoms. It is important to get tested yearly and before having sex with a new partner. Free chlamydia/gonorrhea tests are available for teens at many of the free and low cost clinics listed on this website. Call 311 to find a clinic near you.

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Genital Herpes
  • One of the most common STIs, Herpes is a virus passed through all kinds of sex, including skin-to-skin sexual contact. Herpes can be passed even when a person has no sores.
  • There is no cure for Herpes, but it can be treated to limit outbreaks.

  • In Males & Females:
    • Herpes causes painful fever blisters and/or sores

    • Having Herpes makes it easier for a person to get HIV

    • Symptoms occur in this order:
      1. Itching/pain in genital area
      2. Sores may appear a few hours after sex, or days later. Sores start out as red bumps and then turn into watery red blisters
      3. Sores open up, bleed or ooze, and heal within two to four weeks; flu-like symptoms may be present

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Hepatitis A and B
  • Hepatitis is a virus that attacks the liver.

  • Hepatitis A is passed through the feces of an infected person:
    • Through mouth-to-anus contact during sex
    • When touching a used condom after anal sex
    • If someone doesn't properly wash their hands after using the bathroom and then prepares food or drinks

  • Hepatitis B is passed through
    • bodily fluids like semen
    • blood
    • vaginal secretion

    Free Hepatitis B vaccines are available for teens at many of the  Health Department's Free and Confidential clinics listed on this website. Call a clinic near you or 311 to find out where to go.

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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)/Genital Warts
  • One of the most common STIs, HPV is a virus passed through all kinds of sex, including skin-to-skin sexual contact. HPV can be passed even when a person has NO warts.

  • There is no cure for HPV, but genital warts can be removed.

  • HPV is associated with increased cancer risk in both males and females.

  • Learn more about how to protect Your Child from HPV (PDF)
    • Vaccination is recommended as follows
      • For males, for ages 11-21, ideally by age 12.
      • For females, ages 9-26, ideally by age 12
  • Free HPV vaccines are available for teens at many of the free and low-cost clinics listed on this website. Call a clinic near you or 311 to find out where to go.

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS)
  • HIV is a viral infection that affects the immune system and destroys T-cells that fight infections in the body.
  • There is still no cure HIV, but new medications help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives
  • AIDS is caused by HIV in advanced stages.

  • HIV is transmitted through:

Free HIV tests are available for teens at many of the free and low-cost clinics listed on this website. Call a clinic near you or 311 to find out whereto get tested!

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Pubic "Crab" Lice
  • Pubic “crab” lice is a parasite, not a disease.
  • They are tiny blood sucking bugs (pubic lice) that live in pubic hair Pubic “crab” lice can be passed through skin-to-skin contact during sex, even when condoms are used.
  • Crabs cause intense itching.
  • Special creams can be used to get rid of crabs.

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Syphilis
  • A serious bacterial STI passed through all kinds of sex, including oral sex.

  • Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics

  • In Males & Females:
    • Untreated syphilis can cause heart, brain damage, and possibly death.
    • Symptoms occur in this order:
      1. A painless sore appears, lasts a few weeks and then fades
      2. Flu-like symptoms
      3. Body rashes (on the back, hands, bottom
        of feet)

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Trichomoniasis
  • A bacterial STI passed through vaginal/anal sex

  • Trichonomiasis can be treated and cured with antibiotics

  • In Males:
    • Untreated Trichomoniasis can increase the chance of contracting HIV

    • Many men have few to no symptoms, but symptoms can include a clear discharge from the tip of
      the penis


  • In Females
    • Untreated Trichomoniasis can lead to PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), which can scar the fallopian tubes, often making it impossible for a woman to have children.

    • Many women have few or no symptoms, but possible symptoms include abnormal discharge (gray or yellow/green) and itching/irritation around the vagina.

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Teens in NYC have the right to sexual health services without getting permission from parents, girlfriends/boyfriends or anyone else. Click for the brochure.

Health Bulletin #90: How to Prevent Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections