Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases are also called STDs for short. Or, they are sometimes called “STIs” short for Sexually Transmitted Infections. STDs can be spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Some STDs can also be spread by other types of contact, such as contact with blood or infected sores.

CDC 2015 STD Treatment Guidelines & Recommendations 

Everyone needs to take steps to prevent STDs:

Avoid exposure - Not having sex is the only sure way to avoid STDs. Limit Sex partners - Only have sex with one person, who only has sex with you.Use a condom - Carry condoms with you, so there will be no reason to have sex without them.
 
Some Important Points about STDs:
  • Many women and men don’t see or feel any early symptoms when they are infected with an STD. But they can still give their infection to a sex partner.
  • You can have more than one STD at the same time. Each one needs its own treatment.
  • You can get the same infection multiple times, if you are exposed again.
  • People of any age can be tested and treated for STDs. Minors do not have to have their parents’ permission to get tested and treated.
Remember: This information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health-care provider! If you think you have an STD, go to see your healthcare provider or a clinician right away.
Some Common STDs:
  • Bacterial Infections
    • Chlamydia
    • Gonorrhea
    • NGU
    • Syphilis
       
  • Viruses
    • Herpes
    • Warts
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Hepatitis B
       
  • Others
    • Pubic Lice
    • Scabies
    • Trich
BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
 
Chlamydia
This is the most common bacterial STD today. It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis.
How it is spread:
Having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral intercourse with an infected partner. Babies can get it from their mothers during birth.
Signs of infection:
Most women and men do not have any symptoms, but symptoms may include:
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain or burning while urinating; frequent urination
  • Painful intercourse for women
  • Inflammation of the rectum
  • Swelling or pain in the testicles
Diagnosis:
Lab tests can be done on samples from the infected area, like a woman’s cervix or vagina, a man’s penis, or from urine.
Treatment:
  • Antibiotic pills
  • Treatment of partner
Gonorrhea

This is also known as “GC”, “Clap”, “Drip”, “Dose”, etc. It is caused by a bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

How it is spread:
Having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with an infected partner. Babies can get it from their mothers during birth.
Signs of infection:
Many women and men do not have symptoms, but symptoms may include:
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Sore throat (if infection was passed through oral sex)
  • Inflammation of the rectum
  • Pain or burning while urinating; frequent urination
  • Swelling or pain in the testicles
  • Bleeding between periods
     
Diagnosis:
Lab tests can be done on samples from the infected area, like a woman’s cervix or vagina, a man’s penis, the throat or rectum, or from urine.
Treatment:
  • Antibiotic shot and pills
  • Treatment of partner
     
NGU
This stands for “Non-gonococcal Urethritis.” It means an infection of the tube through which a man or woman urinates that is not caused by gonorrhea. There are many bacteria that can cause this infection; the most common is Chlamydia trachomatis.
How it is spread:
Having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral intercourse with an infected partner.
Signs of infection:
Most women have no early signs, but may have painful urination and/or vaginal discharge.
Men may see signs in 1 to 3 weeks. Men may have burning when they urinate or a drip from their penis.
Diagnosis:
The discharge from a man’s penis or woman’s vagina can be checked for infection. Men and women should be tested for Chlamydia. Gonorrhea should be ruled out before a diagnosis of NGU can be made.
Treatment:
  • Antibiotic pills
  • Treatment of partner
Syphilis
Also known as Syph, the pox, or bad blood. This is a bacterial infection caused by a spirochete called Treponema pallidum.
How it is spread:
Having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral intercourse with an infected partner. Babies can get it from their mothers during pregnancy.

Symptoms may appear in 10 to 90 days for the first stage, 6 weeks to 6 months later for the second stage, many years later for the third stage. Because men and women may not notice early symptoms, if you think someone might have infected you, go right away to a clinician to be tested.

Signs of infection:
In the first stage, there is a single, painless sore where the bacteria entered the person’s body. Many people do not notice this sore. In the second stage, there is a rash that often shows on hands and feet, and symptoms like the flu. In the last stage, the disease can affect the brain, heart, eyes or other parts of a person’s body. Babies can be still-born or have birth defects.
Diagnosis:
There is a blood test. Also, discharge from the sores can be checked under a microscope.
Treatment:
Antibiotic shot in the early stages; additional doses are needed for those that have had it longer than a year.
VIRUSES
Virus infections can’t be cured, but some are preventable and/or can be treated.
 
Herpes
This is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus and like other viruses, it stays in the body. There is no cure, but it can be treated.
How it is spread:
Having vaginal, anal or oral intercourse with an infected partner. Babies can get it during birth.
Signs of infection:
  • Small, painful sores or blisters on the part of the body that was infected; they may disappear and come back.
  • Burning or painful urination
Diagnosis:
A clinician may look at or test the discharge from the blisters or sores.
Treatment:
There is no cure. There are pills that can prevent the blisters or sores from coming back.
Warts
Warts on the genitals are caused by specific types of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus).
How it is spread:
Having vaginal, anal or oral intercourse or skin contact with infected cells shed by someone who has the virus.
Signs of infection:
  • Warts on the genitals, in the urethra, in the anus, and, rarely, in the throat.
  • Genital warts are soft to the touch, may look like miniature cauliflower florets, and can itch.
  • Untreated genital warts may go away on their own or can get bigger or spread.
  • It may take months from the exposure for warts to develop. In women, genital warts grow more rapidly during pregnancy.
Diagnosis:
The warts can usually be seen. Small, flat warts or those inside a woman’s vagina can be seen better using a weak acid, like vinegar.
Treatment:
There is no cure for the virus. The warts can be treated by freezing or burning them or putting medicine on them. It usually takes several treatments before they go away and they can come back.
HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off life-threatening infections and cancers. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the last stage of the HIV disease.
How it is spread:
Having unprotected vaginal, oral or anal intercourse with a person who has HIV or whose HIV status is unknown. Sharing needles (or “works”) for drugs, tattoos or body piercings with a person who has HIV or whose status is unknown.Women with HIV can pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and through breast milk.
Signs of infection:
Early (weeks to months after exposure):
  • Flu-like illness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Late (usually years after exposure):
    • Persistent fevers
    • Night sweats
    • Prolonged diarrhea
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Purple bumps on the skin or inside mouth and nose
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Recurrent respiratory infections
 
Note: These symptoms are not specific for HIV/AIDS and may have other causes. Most persons with HIV have no symptoms at all for years.
Diagnosis:
The most common HIV tests use blood to detect HIV infection. Oral swabs or urine tests are also available in some areas. Some tests take a few days for results, but rapid HIV tests can give results in about 20 minutes. All positive HIV tests must be followed up by another test to confirm the positive result. Results of this confirmatory test can take a few days to a few weeks.
Treatment:
There is no cure for HIV. However, treatment is available and it may help delay the development of AIDS and help fight the other diseases that infected people get because their immune system is not working.
Hepatitis B
This is a blood born virus that can be spread sexually.
How it is spread:
It is spread through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse, sharing needles with infected blood, or through feces. Babies can get it from an infected mother before birth.
Signs of infection:
  • Upset stomach
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Skin rash
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Some people may not have early symptoms
Diagnosis:
Blood Test
Treatment:
  • There is no cure or treatment available for acute hepatitis B, but it will usually clear on its own. Persons with chronic hepatitis B are referred to a specialist for long term therapy.
Prevention:
There is a vaccine that can prevent hepatitis B. A person of any age can get the vaccine.
OTHER – Conditions that may be Sexually Transmitted
Trich
This is caused by a tiny protozoan called Trichomonas vaginalis.
How it is spread:
Men and women get it by having vaginal, oral or anal intercourse with an infected partner.
Signs of infection:
  • Most men and women have no early symptoms. When symptoms do develop they can include:
  • A woman can have discharge from her vagina that can be bubbly, yellow, and smells bad. There can also be itching and burning around the vagina.
  • A man can have a discharge from his penis and it can itch or burn.
  • More frequent urination
Diagnosis:
Discharge from the woman’s vagina can be checked under a microscope. Culture tests and other tests using swabs or urine have been developed that also allow diagnosis of Trich in women and men.
Treatment:
  • Antibiotic pills for both partners
Pubic Lice
This is also known as “crabs”.
How it is spread:
By sexual contact with a person who has them, or in some cases from infected fabric like clothing, bedding or towels.
Signs of infection:
Pubic lice live in the pubic area and cause itching. You can see the lice and their eggs, called nits, attached to the pubic hair.
Diagnosis:
The lice and their eggs can be seen.
Treatment:
  • A prescription cream is needed. Bedding and clothing should be washed and dried using the heat cycle or dry cleaned.
Scabies
Scabies is caused by an itch mite called Sarcoptes scabiei.
How it is spread:
Scabies in adults is frequently sexually acquired, although scabies in children is usually not.
Signs of infection:
Scabies mites burrow under the skin, many times on the thigh, underarm, between fingers, etc. They leave red spots and itch.
Diagnosis:
Scabies mites can be found by scraping one of the red spots and looking at the material under a microscope.
Treatment:
  • A prescription cream is needed. Bedding and clothing must be washed and dried using the heat cycle or dry cleaned.