Relationships are complicated enough without adding an STD to the equation. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not exactly the type of thing you can just include in your online dating profileÃ¢â‚¬”that is, unless youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re part of a growing number of people joining niche dating sites specifically geared toward people with STDs.
Case in point: Last year, more than 100,000 people signed up for the worldwide STD dating site Positive Singles, according to company data. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no wonder the site is so popular: There are 20 million new incidences of STDs in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionÃ¢â‚¬”and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on top of the 110 million Americans who are already infected.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“STDs are so common that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to find a partner who hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dealt with it before,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Shari Brasner, MD, a gynecologist and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the thing, though: Just because you and your partner have the same STD doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s safe to have unprotected sex.
While direct re-exposure to an STD wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always worsen your case, it could trigger flare-ups from a dormant infection like herpes, says Brasner. Plus, if your partner has been exposed to one STD, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more likely to have been exposed to others. And since many super-common STDs such as herpes, HPV, and Chlamydia can be asymptomatic, but still contagious, he may not even know if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a carrier, says Brasner.
The bottom line: You two love bugs may share the same love bugsÃ¢â‚¬”but you still have to use a condom. To further reduce your chance of transmitting STDs, avoid all sexual contactÃ¢â‚¬”kissing includedÃ¢â‚¬”if either of you are experiencing symptoms or feel an outbreak coming on.
One final note: Condoms help minimize your risk, but they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t foolproof. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Because it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cover all skin surfaces, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an imperfect barrier,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Brasner, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the best protection we have.Ã¢â‚¬Â
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