WHAT ARE STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite people can get through sexual contact. Many STIs have no symptoms, so people can have an infection but not know it. Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious health problems. Getting tested is important, and most STDs are easy to treat.
Most of the time, STDs have no symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD. If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.
Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your medical provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs.
WHO SHOULD GET TESTED?
- Anyone who is sexually active
- Adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
- All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
- Everyone who is pregnant should be tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C starting early in pregnancy. Those at risk for infection should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy.
- All sexually active straight, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex should be tested:
- People who have had oral or anal sex should talk with their healthcare provider about throat and rectal testing options
SIGNS OF STDs?
- sores or bumps on and around your genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks
- Unusual discharge from your vagina or penis
- Burning sensation or pain when peeing
- itching, pain, irritation and or swelling in your penis, vagina, vulva, or anus
- flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches, swollen glands and feeling tired
All of these symptoms can be caused by things that aren’t STDs. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure what’s going on.
MOST COMMON STDS
Chlamydia – Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that’s easily cured with antibiotic medicine. Chlamydia is a common, but treatable, STD. Most people who have chlamydia don’t show any symptoms. Chlamydia is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The infection is carried in semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. Chlamydia can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, eyes, and throat. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
Chlamydia is treated with an antibiotic. Your sex partners also need to be tested and treated. This includes anyone you have had sex with in the past 60 days or your last sex partner. Be sure to take all of your medicine as directed.
Chlamydia can be passed to sex partners even during treatment. You should avoid sexual contact until you have finished treatment, and your sex partners should as well. You also should be retested for chlamydia 3 months after treatment.
Syphilis is a common bacterial infection that’s spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Syphilis causes sores on your genitals (called chancres). The sores are usually painless, but they can easily spread the infection to other people. Syphilis can infect your vagina, anus, penis, or scrotum, and sometimes your lips and mouth. You can help prevent syphilis by using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex. Syphilis can be easily cured with medication if you treat it early. But without treatment, it leads to really serious, permanent problems like brain damage, paralysis, and blindness.
Syphilis is treated with antibiotics. If it is caught and treated early, long-term problems can be prevented. The length of treatment depends on how long you have had the infection. You may have periodic blood tests to see if the treatment is working. Sexual contact should be avoided during treatment. If you are diagnosed with syphilis, you also should be tested for HIV. Your sex partners should be treated for syphilis.
Trichomoniasis — called “trich” for short — is an STD caused by a parasite that spreads easily during sex. The parasite is carried in sexual fluids, like semen, pre cum, and vaginal fluids. Most people with trichomoniasis don’t have any symptoms and feel totally fine. Signs of trich include irritation and itching, smelly discharge, and painful or frequent peeing. People get trich from having unprotected sexual contact with someone who has the infection. You can help prevent trich by using condoms every time you have sex.
What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV). Infection with HSV can cause painful sores and blisters around the lips, genitals, or anus. Sometimes, infection with HSV causes no sores. It is possible to have HSV and not know it. There is no cure, but the infection can be managed.
How does infection with the Herpes virus occur?
HSV is spread through direct contact with herpes sores, usually during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. HSV also can be present on the skin even if there are no sores. If a person comes into contact with the virus on an infected person’s skin, he or she can become infected.
After a person is first infected, HSV stays in the body. It travels to nerve cells near the spine and stays there until something triggers it to become active again. When this happens, the virus then travels along the nerves, back to where it first entered the body, and causes a new outbreak of sores and blisters. This is called a recurrence. The virus can be passed to others during a recurrence.
What are the symptoms of recurrent herpes outbreak?
How can I avoid passing the herpes virus to my sexual partners?
If you have genital herpes, you need to take steps to avoid passing HSV to your sexual partners:
• Tell current sexual partners that you have genital herpes. Even if your partners do not have sores, they may want to be tested. The blood test for herpes can be done when no sores are present. You also should tell future partners before having sexual contact.
• It is possible to pass HSV to someone else even when you do not have sores. The virus can be present on skin that looks normal, including right before and after an outbreak. Using male latex condoms (or polyurethane for those allergic to latex) may reduce your risk of passing or getting HSV, but they do not provide complete protection. Areas of skin that have the virus but are not covered by the condom can spread the infection. Suppressive therapy can reduce the risk of passing the infection to a partner.
• Be alert to the prodromal symptoms that signal an outbreak coming on. Avoid sexual contact from the time you feel these symptoms coming on until a few days after the scabs have gone away. Wash your hands with soap and water after any possible contact with sores. This will keep you from reinfecting yourself or passing the virus to someone else.
People with HSV-2 infection have an increased risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) if they have sex with an HIV-infected partner. Taking suppressive therapy does not decrease this risk
What is Hepatitis C ?
Hepatitis C is serious infections that affect the liver. The diseases is contagious (easily spread) and caused by viruses. It can lead to serious, long-term illness.
Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect the liver. If left untreated, it can sometimes cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver over many years.
But with modern treatments, it’s usually possible to cure the infection, and most people with it will have a normal life expectancy.
It’s estimated around 118,000 people in the UK had chronic hepatitis C in 2019.
You can become infected with it if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person.
How is Hepatitis C virus infection spread?
The hepatitis C virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood. This can happen while sharing needles or sharing household items that come into contact with blood. A baby can be infected during birth if the mother has hepatitis C infection. It also can be spread during unprotected sex, but it is harder to spread the virus this way. It is not spread through casual contact or breastfeeding.
Being infected once with the hepatitis C virus does not mean that a person cannot get it again. There is more than one type of hepatitis C virus. These different types are called strains. It is possible to be reinfected later with a different strain or be infected at the same time with more than one strain.
Treatments for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be treated with medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several weeks.
Until recently, most people would have taken 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon (a weekly injection) and ribavirin (a capsule or tablet).
Tablet-only treatments are now available.
These new hepatitis C medicines have been found to make treatment more effective, are easier to tolerate, and have shorter treatment courses.
They include sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Using the latest medications, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
But it’s important to be aware that you will not be immune to the infection and should take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected again.
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Shalom’s Primary Care Site(s) are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H80CS00880 – Community Health Center Programs and 15% percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. This information is provided by Shalom Health care Center, Inc. It should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.