Play it safe

World AIDS Day is a good reminder to everyone to practice safe sex. HIV and AIDS cases are prevalent in the United States, but there are lots of other sexually transmitted diseases that can put a damper on your weekend or the rest of your life. A WebMD survey shows that 33 percent of people practice safe sex “all the time” and 36 percent “never” do. Meanwhile, 20 million new cases of STDs pop up each year in the U.S. Here’s a quick refresher course on why condoms are cool:

Chlamydia: Almost a million Americans reported catching this STD in 2004. It can cause Pelvic Inflamatory Disease. It’s curable, but can lead to infertility in women. It’s most prevalent in those ages 15 to 24.

Gonorrhea: Like chlamydia, this bad boy can cause PID and infertility. About 330,000 people in the United States reported having gonorrhea in 2004, and most of them were 20 to 24 years old. It is treatable.

Syphilis: Although it was on the decline from 1996 to 2000, syphilis began a comeback between 2000 and 2004. It is much more prevalent in men (mostly ages 35 to 39) than women, but it can now be treated with antibiotics.

HPV: Human Papillomavirus is the most prevalent STD out there. It often goes undetected, though can cause visible genital warts. It can be treated but not cured, and it can lead to cervical cancer. Get the vaccine, ladies.

Herpes: You’ll know this one if you have the unfortunate luck to see it. It comes in two strains—one that shows up as cold sores on the mouth; another that shows up as blisters in the nether regions. And yes, you can contract one from the other. There’s no cure, and it’s most prevalent among those ages 30 to 44.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control ( WebMD (