Risk assessment provides a way of gauging the chances of contracting or having contracted a sexually transmitted infection. The following questions should provide you with a rough idea of the risk of contracting an STD in the event of a sexual encounter:
- What is the prevalence of certain STDs? This refers to how common a certain infection is in a given geographical location. This means that you are more likely to contact an STD in areas that have a higher prevalence if all other factors are kept constant.
- What form of sexual encounter do I engage in? Different forms of sexual encounters provide for different levels of risk to different forms of sexually transmitted infections. For example, The chances of acquiring HIV from penetrative anal sex is much higher than that posed by kissing.
- Did I use any form of protection? You would be at a higher risk of contraction an STD if you engage in sex without a condom as opposed to when you do.
- Who is my sexual partner? How well you know and trust your partner plays a role in assessing risk too. Lets take the example of having sex with a prostitute. Chances are that you know little about them. Engaging in unprotected sex with such would be begging for trouble.
- I’m I on any hormonal contraceptive pills? Some contraceptives that contain progesterone thin the mucosal surface of the vagina leading to easy penetration by disease-causing pathogens.
- What is my age? Young girls below the age of 18 are at a higher risk of contracting an STD because their vaginal mucosa is still thin; an easy pathway for pathogens.
The risk chart below is majorly based on prevalence, type of sexual encounter and whether or not a condom was used.