There are four primary ways you can protect yourself from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

1. Use condoms

Only condoms can protect you from HIV and other STIs. Use a condom or a dental dam every time you have sex, even oral sex. But remember, no type of STI protection (even condoms) works all the time!

2. Get tested.

You should get tested for STIs if you are sexually active. It’s important to get tested because you could have an STI and not have any symptoms. If you don’t get tested, you could accidentally pass that STI on to your partner without realizing it.
Before you have sexual contact with a new partner, both you and your partner should get tested (and treated, if needed) for STIs. You can do this at

  • a doctor’s office,
  • a family-planning clinic like Planned Parenthood, or
  • another clinic in your community.

If you are 12 or older, you can be tested and treated for STIs, HIV, and other communicable diseases without your parents’ knowledge or permission.

3. Talk to your partner

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your partner about STIs, you may want to think about whether you are ready to have sex with him or her.

4. Get vaccinated

One type of STI is called HPV. It has no symptoms and can cause cancer when you get older. Young women and men can get the HPV vaccine without their parents’ permission. Ask your health care provider about the HPV vaccine.

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