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Lots of Americans are wrong about how STDs are spread, survey finds

More than 80 percent say they are knowledgeable about sex health, but wait until you see their answers to these questions.

There was a time when there were people who thought a woman could get pregnant from a toilet seat. Now, it appears a lot of Americans think you can get a sexually transmitted disease by going to the john.

You can't, except in the most extreme circumstances.

A survey of 2,000 sexually-active Americans found that wasn't the only fallacy many Americans have about STDs, either.

Thirty-four percent surveyed by OnePoll on behalf of LetsGetChecked said they believed they could get an STD from a public toilet seat.

WebMD says organisms that cause STDs could live for a very short time on the surface of a toilet seat. The only way you could conceivably be infected is if the germs transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore where your body makes contact with the seat. So while there is a chance, it's very low.

One doctor is pretty blunt about the chances.

"To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat -- unless they were having sex on the toilet seat!" Abigail Salyers, PhD and president of the American Society for Microbiology told WebMD.

RELATED: CDC: Don't wash or reuse condoms!

RELATED: 1 million new sexually transmitted infections are contracted every day

Twenty-four percent said they thought STDs can be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass with an infected person.

Decades after the AIDS panic incorrectly had some people thinking they could get HIV by simply shaking hands, 22% still think they can get an STD through incidental contact, according to the study. 

Twenty-two percent of those surveyed incorrectly thought wearing two condoms would double their protection from STDs, according to SWNS, and 36% said wearing just one condom would fully protect them from an STD.

Here's the kicker: 81% of those polled said they think they are knowledgeable about sexual health. That may be due to a lack of sex education -- just 52% recall taking sex ed classes and 53% of those say the classes only taught abstinence.

Other findings:

  • 53% say they haven't been tested for an STD in the past year; 23% of those say they are uncomfortable being tested and 24% say they were worried about what the results might show.
  • 19% say they've never been tested for an STD.
  • 24% say they rarely or never talk to a new partner about their STD status or the last time they were tested before they have sex; 43% of those say the main reason is that the topic is uncomfortable.
  • Less than half of those surveyed could identify herpes (48%) and chlamydia (42%) as an STD. 
  • But there are some who were given made up words and actually thought they were STDs, such as "claphytis" (28%) and "strenedia" (21%), according to SWNS.

The survey was commissioned for Sexual Health Awareness Month.