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The Leading STD Culprits

In celebration of STD Awareness Month, we gathered data from the 2010 Center for Disease Control's annual report to give you the breakdown on which states have the highest STD rates, and incorporated some need-to-know info about each of the leading culprits that are spreading across the U.S.

Related: The New Sex Cancer

Gonorrhea

What to look out for: Gonorrhea often shows up within 10 days of infection, but typically there are no symptoms early on. Given time, though, it'll raise it's ugly head, discharge from the penis (and vagina for women), frequent urination, and discomfort during urination. As a bonus, it can also lead to epididymitis in men, which can cause infertility.

How it spreads: Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria and is transmitted through semen and vaginal secretions during intercourse. According to the CDC, it's the second-most reported infectious disease with nearly 356,000 infections in 2007, but it's estimated that about twice as many new cases actually occur but are undiagnosed and unreported.

Treatable? Yes, with antibiotics. (But something to keep in mind: Researchers recently discovered a new strain of gonorrhea, H014, that can't be killed with current antibiotics. So playing it on the safe side makes even more sense.)

Related: The New STD Superbug

Chlamydia

What to look out for: Chlamydia may be asymptomatic, but common symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating and abnormal discharge from the penis (and vagina, again, for women). Untreated cases can lead to complications that cause pain, fever, pelvic inflammatory disease, and (more rarely and mostly in women) sterility.

How it spreads: Through bodily fluid secreted during oral, anal, and vaginal sex (or from mother to child).

Treatable? Yes, with antibiotics.

Related: 3 Facts about Infertility

Syphilis

What to look out for: Primary symptoms: An ulcer or sore at the infection site. Secondary symptoms: A rash which may look like "copper penny" spots or fine red dots on palms or soles of the feet; a skin rash on arms, legs, and trunk; sore throat, sores in throat, and fever. Latent stage: This occurs when the primary and secondary symptoms disappear. If you go without treatment, the symptoms will fade, yet the infection will stay in the body. This stage can last for years, and if left untreated, syphilis could develop into the "late stage" of the disease. Late stage: This stage occurs in about 15 percent of those who go untreated and can subsequently damage the internal organs (which eventually can lead to severe and fatal complications).

How it spreads: During intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal) the microorganism passes from sores though tiny breaks in the uninfected partner's skin.

Treatable? Yes. Antibiotics should do the trick, but permanent damage may have occurred prior to treatment.

Related: The STD Diagnostic Guide

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