How to Protect Yourself Against Five Common STDs


Most people know of these STDs, but what are they and is there a cure for them? Here, we look at the five most well-known STDs and how you can safeguard yourself against them.

Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a family of over one hundred different types.

While there’s no cure for genital warts and most people will clear the HPV on their own, HPV treatment is available to minimise or eliminate the warts. Genital warts appear and may re-appear around the genitals and anus after infection as a series of patchy or cauliflower bumps. There are no other serious symptoms associated with genital warts.


HIV is, thankfully, less common nowadays due to public awareness. However, it has been included in this list as it is a very serious STD.

HIV attacks the immune system and can be spread through blood contact. The incubation period can range from one to ten years, leading to AIDS, which means the immune system begin to fail. Generally people with AIDS die from other infections caused by common bacteria or viruses because of their compromised immune systems.


Most people clear Hepatitis A and B on their own, especially adults, while Hepatitis C will persist in about 85% of infected people.

Chronic carriers tend to be at risk of liver cancer and other liver problems. There’s no cure for hepatitis as yet but treatment can help a percentage of infected people clear these viruses by supporting their immune systems in fighting the virus.


Genital Herpes is caused by the HSV-2 virus, which leads to small, raised bumps around the genitals that may be painful and itchy but heal over on their own. There’s currently no known cure for this disease though anti-viral drugs can help with healing.


Gonorrhea is a bacteria infection that leads to burning pain for men when urinating or when there is penile discharge. Women tend to be asymptomatic or experience some pelvic pain and discharge. Gonorrhea should be treated with the latest generation antibiotics so as to avoid complication such as epididymitis (sudden scrotal pain) or pelvic inflammation diseases.

Strategies for Protecting Yourself Against STDs:

Abstinence. Abstinence is the best method against STDs. Only have intercourse with partners after a blood test or abstain altogether.

Always use a condom. Never go unprotected. Though condom can reduce your chances of getting infected, remember condoms can’t protect you completely against viruses like the HPV virus that are transmitted through skin-contact, or through bodily fluids such as hepatitis.

Don’t share needles. If you inject drugs, never share needles with others.

Don’t get tattoos or acupuncture treatments from unsterilised parlours. A study by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases found that people who had Hepatitis C were three times more likely to have tattoos. If you want to get a tattoo or receive an acupuncture treatment, make sure the parlours has the most stringent sterilising standards.

Don’t get manicures from unsterilised parlours. Manicures may be dangerous when parlours don’t effectively sterilise their equipment. While there are not specific reported causes of transmission, specialists haven’t ruled out the possibility that STDs can be transmitted via manicures. You should talk to the manicurist about their disinfecting procedures for equipment. Opt out if they don’t use autoclave technology, which kills hepatitis and HIV.

Get vaccinated. Where possible, get vaccinated before you travel or as early as you can. Have all your children vaccinated. There’s a vaccine for the most common genital warts, and for Hepatitis A and B.
Don’t share razors or toothbrushes. Bleeding gums and saliva can spread common STDs.