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Your hand book of STIs

Everything you need to know about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

What is an STI?

An STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection that spreads due to sexual contact, including vaginal intercourse, anal and oral sex, the risks of which are increased without the use of condoms.

Who is affected?

Both men and women are susceptible to STIs, with women in the age group of 15-24 being most vulnerable. It is often easier to detect an STI in a woman than in a man.

What are the symptoms of an STI?
Each STI has different symptoms, the most common being boils, sores or genital discharge, along with pain. Infected people often exhibit few or no symptoms of an infection until they are tested.

How many STIs are there, and can they all be cured?

The most common ones are:

  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – most affected are teenage girls engaging in unsafe sex. It manifests as tiny warts on the genital areas. HPV can be best detected by a Pap Smear, or a colposcopy if cervical cancer is suspected. HPV can be prevented by getting vaccinated for it.
  2. Chlamydia – caused by bacteria, it is visible in the mouth or throat and on the genitals as well. Symptoms include anal discharge and a burning sensation when urinating. It can be treated with antibiotics, but the chances of it returning are high.
  3. Syphilis – occurs in stages, and can have serious complications if not detected and treated early on. Appearing as painless sores at the site of infection, these sores develop mucus membranes, and can spread to other parts of the body as well, such as palms. It can be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, and a fever. In severe cases, it can affect the heart and brain. Treatable using antibiotics.
  4. Herpes Simplex Virus – appears as blisters on the lips, inside the mouth and on genital areas that can break and become painful sores. Can be transmitted even by kissing, along with oral and anal sex. There is no cure for this virus.
  5. Gonorrhea – is similar to syphilis in terms of cause and symptoms, and can be treated with the correct medication.

The risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections is automatically reduced by having safe sex (using a condom), and abstaining from having multiple sexual partners, and not sleeping with those who currently suffer from or have a history of any STI.

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Celebrating the pride of coming out…

What does it mean when someone comes out of the closet?
Ritika SrivastavaTeentalkindia Counsellor

The rainbow wave has brought with it a stream of pride parades/ marches, movies and literature in support of equality for all genders. As the movement breaks out across the globe and more people march in favor of the LGBT community, we also stand to celebrate our brethren of all genders and sexual orientations.  

In the spirit of keeping humanity intact, the Human Rights Campaign of 1988 announced October 11th as National Coming Out Day and as supporters of the initiative we at TeenTalk are celebrating people who have managed to survive the intolerance and come out with much pride.

A 23 year old Liberal Arts Bachelor, Shiv Kabra shares his coming out story –

So how and when did he realize the difference in his sexuality? “I started to realise a difference in my sexuality and that of those around me sometime around 11th grade. I am not sure it dawned on me in a big way, just slowly realised what I suppose had been there all along. I had dated girls up till then, and realised I wanted to date guys too” he says.

The most difficult step that any queer/gay child has ever had to take is to come out to his/her parents. Parental rejection or acceptance plays a great role in how life hereon turns out. On taking the plunge and coming out, Kabra tells us how he broke the news to his parents; “I came out to my father over Skype and framed it as having to do with being in a relationship. He took it alright. My brother had already come out to them, so I rode on the coattails of that. My mum and I spoke the next day and we didn’t really talk about it too much. She was mainly worried about how hard things might be for me in the future. So my parents did their best to be supportive. The first person whom I confided in however was probably a friend.” 

Fear of discrimination and being judged is a huge determinant factor to anyone embracing one’s sexuality, publically and socially. Ask Kabra if he has ever faced discrimination, been judged or treated differently for his sexual orientation?  “Yes. But I think that also has to do with my gender presentation which is non-conforming” he quips confidently. One common denominator in most (not all) gay and queer people is history of sexual violence or assault. Did Shiv face anything such? We ask. “I wouldn't call it sexual assault. But a complicated relationship” he keeps it short.

That said, one of the most crucial and difficult aspects of coming out is to deal with discrimination, overcoming it and survive with or without acceptance. We ask Shiv how he managed it and the answer is as simple as it is meaningful; “Plunge into academia, activism, and support from friends” he states. True that, there is no better survival tactic than to educate, empower oneself and stand for what one believes is right. 

And finally, is there any word of advice that he has for the LGBT community and the gay/ queer teenagers who are intimidated by the sheer thought of coming out? He gives his two cents and keeps it precise, “There might never be a point where you ‘realize’ your sexuality. I’m still trying to figure mine out. It’s important to explore and give yourself space, and be mindful of consent.”

Well, we say that is good advice. Whether to come out or not is a personal choice but the freedom to be able to embrace who one is, that’s everyone’s basic right and we must be able to claim it!   

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Disclaimer: TeentalkIndia does not offer emergency services and is not a crisis intervention centre, if you or someone you know is experiencing acute distress or is suicidal/self harming, please contact the nearest hospital or emergency/crisis management services or helplines.