Here's How Many Adults Have STIs In America

by Laken Howard
Originally Published: 
A woman depressed due to STI standing lonely and sadly next to a river

If you're looking for more evidence that you should use protection during sex, here's a troubling new statistic that will put things in perspective: According to new research about STI rates in America, 25 percent of adults are living with an incurable STI — yikes.

Popular adult store Adam & Eve did research and conducted a poll to find out the truth about sexual health in America, and some of the things they found were shocking. Whether you blame dating apps and hookup culture or the funding cuts to free sexual health clinics, there's no denying that STI rates are on the rise. (STIs refer to sexually-transmitted infections, which don't always have symptoms. They're considered diseases, STDs, when there are symptoms) According to the new data, there are an estimated 19 million new cases of STIs in America each year and, of those, almost half occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

This seems like an appropriate time reinforce the importance of comprehensive sexual education, as well as the necessity of places like Planned Parenthood, where men and women can get safe, affordable healthcare. Here are seven of the most disturbing new statistics about STIs — for the sake of your own (and others') health, make sure you have safe, consensual sex and get tested often.

1. Just Over Half Of People Have Been Tested

Do you know how many people should be tested? Everyone who is sexually active. Do you know how many people, according to the poll, were actually tested? A mere 51 percent of the population. That leaves almost half of people who, for whatever reason, chose not to get tested for STIs, despite the fact that leaving one untreated can seriously affect your reproductive health. Even if an STI is asymptomatic (meaning you don't see or feel any side effects), you can lose fertility or even get cancer if it's left undetected and untreated.

2. A Quarter Of People With An STI Did NOT Tell Their Partner

While it's reassuring that 75 percent of people did, in fact, inform their partner(s) that they have an STI, the remaining 25 percent of people who did not were seriously putting their sexual partners at risk, which is not okay. It's understandably a difficult and awkward thing to bring up, but there are ways to tell your partner you have an STI, and it's wrong to put others' sexual health at risk.

3. 80 Percent Of People With An STI Did Not Even Have Sex

This shouldn't be breaking news to anyone, but you don't have to have intercourse to contract a sexually transmitted infection. As terrifying as it is, you can get an STI from oral sex or genital-to-genital contact, so you should always use protection if you're unsure of your partner's sexual history.

4. 50 Million Americans Have Genital Herpes

While it might seem impossible to find a positive note to the news that so many people are infected with an incurable STI, there is one (slightly) bright side: STIs, even incurable ones, are common, and being diagnosed with one is not the end of your life, romantic or otherwise. Though I am not condoning unsafe sex, people should nonetheless be more understanding of individuals with STIs, and we should work to reduce the damaging stigma around STIs.

5. ...And 85 Percent Of Those People Don't Know They Have It

To reiterate: Get tested, and often.

6. Almost 3 Million Chlamydia Cases Occur Yearly

While chlamydia is curable, that doesn't mean you should be lax about getting a "less serious" STI. With just a tiny bit of responsibility, you can protect yourself and others from having to deal with a potentially costly STI diagnosis. Still, though, there are three million new cases each year, many of which are undetected because chlamydia often lacks symptoms.

7. Only 31 Percent Of People Always Use Protection

The poll also found that 58 percent of people don't use protection at all, and 11 percent only use it during penetrative sex. Hopefully, after reading all of these other statistics, you'll change your ways if you're someone who previously ~went with the flow~ rather than firmly demanding that proper protection be worn, during all kinds of potentially risky sexual activity. Be open and honest with your partner(s), get tested, and protect yourself: Sexual health is no joke.

Here's the infographic from Adam & Eve:

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Images: LoloStock/Fotolia; Giphy (7); Adam & Eve

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