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Also troublesome are the ever-multiplying wily strains of certain STDs.

There are now more than 100 different types of HPV, for instance, and researchers have ID'd new drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea. H., an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Of course, medical facts don't always change public opinion, leaving STD patients anxious and without practical information.

One common fear is that they'll be denied health insurance coverage. (HIV remains a serious disease and is a topic worthy of its own feature story.) Another unwarranted fear is that an STD equals instant infertility.

Unconcerned, she visited her doctor's office for a quick full-body exam, during which a physician's assistant pointed out something Kristen hadn't noticed: a single, painless bump near her vagina, smaller than a pencil eraser. Her swollen lymph node was a telltale sign that she'd recently acquired herpes simplex virus 2, a.k.a. Yet, her young lothario denied having it and refused to be tested, and their relationship imploded, leaving Kristen to nurse her incurable infection and damaged psyche alone. What Kristen didn't know then is that, in any given year, more women will join Club STD than get married or give birth.

D., a New York City mental health counselor who specializes in sexual health.

The rising problem—for doctors and patients alike—is that most STDs have zero visible or tangible clues.

Before you answer, consider that a potential partner could be asking himself that same question about you.

After all, half of sexually active people end up with an STD by age 25.

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