CHAPTER 10: SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS -STDs

About STIs and STDs

STI is the abbreviation of sexually transmitted infection. The term only recently became more popular as the previous term STD - sexually transmitted disease (which means the same thing) caused turmoil in public.

An STI is an infection that comes usually comes from sexual contact with someone already infected. Some STIs have been known to infect others through different means like heredity, lip balms, tattoos, toilets, etc…


Most Common STIs

Papilloma Virus

Genital Human Papillomavirus - HPV

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 40 types of HPV. They can infect the genitals, mouth or throat. Most men and women who are sexually active will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their life.

HPV spreads from one person to another through vaginal, anal or oral sex. You can get the virus even if ones partner has no symptoms. Fortunately, vaccines protect people against many types of HPV.

HPV infections are usually not harmful. They often go away on their own within two years. The problem is some types of HPV can lead to serious health problems. These include genital warts and cervical cancer. Most people infected with HPV have no symptoms until they develop other health issues.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. Possible signs of infection are a discharge from the penis or vagina and burning during urination. However, most people with chlamydia have no symptoms.

Chlamydia spreads through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus of an infected person. A pregnant woman can pass chlamydia to her baby during childbirth. Even if one has been treated for chlamydia in the past, one can still get the infection again.

A doctor can treat chlamydia with antibiotics. Without treatment, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems. It also is known to cause infertility. Women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease. Men can develop a condition that causes painful inflammation of the tube that helps carry sperm.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis

This infection comes from a parasite that passes from one person to another during sex. It can spread from a man to a woman, a woman to a man, or from one woman to another woman. Women usually develop the infection inside the vagina or the urethra. Men can develop trichomoniasis inside the penis. The infection usually doesn’t spread to the mouth, anus, or other parts of the body.

Most people with trichomoniasis don’t have symptoms. Sometimes infected people experience itching or burning during urination. Discharge from the penis or the vagina is another sign of trichomoniasis. These symptoms may come and go. It takes antibiotics to get rid of the infection.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea

This STD occurs when bacteria infects the lining of a woman's reproductive tract. Gonorrhea can also develop in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes, and anus of both men and women.

Gonorrhea spreads through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus of an infected person. A pregnant woman can pass gonorrhea to her baby during childbirth.

People with gonorrhea often have mild or no symptoms. Signs of the infection include painful urination and white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis or vagina. Men may develop pain in their testicles. Women can also have vaginal bleeding between periods.

Treatment involves two different antibiotics. Without treatment, gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems. Women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease. This increases women’s risk of infertility and serious complications during pregnancy. Men with untreated gonorrhea can develop inflammation of the tube that helps carry sperm, which can lead to infertility.

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes

This infection comes from the herpes simplex virus (HSV), type 1 or type 2. One can get herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who is infected. Some people with herpes have mild symptoms. Some have none at all. Other people have outbreaks of lesions that look like blisters around their genitals, rectum or mouth. These blisters can break open and become painful sores that take a long time to heal.

The fluid inside herpes sores contains the virus. One can become infected if one comes in contact with it because the virus can spread through the skin. Infected people can pass the virus to their partners even if they don't have sores. Outbreaks of genital herpes can happen again and again. But the outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.

There is no cure for herpes. But a doctor can prescribe medicines that help prevent and shorten outbreaks and ease the pain.

Syphilis

Syphilis

Syphilis is an infection caused by bacteria. Sores may develop on the genitals and lips, and in the mouth. The infection spreads through contact with these sores during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. A pregnant woman can pass syphilis to her baby.

It can take up to 90 days after exposure for syphilis symptoms to appear. The infection progresses in stages that can last for weeks or even years. After sores appear, a skin rash develops. This can show up on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. In some cases, the rash can be all over the body. Left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems. They include brain damage, paralysis, blindness, and dementia. In extreme cases, syphilis can be fatal.

Syphilis is treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. The more quickly one gets syphilis treatment, the more completely one will recover from it.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus -HIV

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. When it enters the body, the virus attacks the immune system. It destroys certain white blood cells the body needs to fight off infections. Without enough of these cells, people with HIV develop other serious diseases, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.

HIV can’t survive for long outside the body. It spreads from person to person through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood and semen during vaginal and anal sex. It's possible to get HIV through oral sex, but this is not common. A pregnant woman can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. One can also get the virus from sharing needles or syringes with an infected person.

There is no cure for HIV. But treatment with several different types of medication helps people live longer and maintain an active life. The medicine also reduces the chances of spreading the virus to others.


Diagnosis, outline of person in hospital gown

Living With a STI

While some STIs are curable the others that aren’t leave many people wondering how they should go about their life.

After talking to a doctor to find out ways to manage an STI there are a few steps people can go about to keeping the love and sex life intact.

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Notifying Partners Anonymously

If notifying your partners is too hard, there are ways to notify your partners anonymously about your STI.

Legal Responsibilities for STI Victims

Each state has different reporting systems for those who have been tested as positive.

Most places that test will update the state with the information only when a positive has been verified.

If you have been diagnosed with positive, depending on your state you may have certain obligations to the state.

Almost all states do not require you to tell your partner you have tested positive for an STI, but in the event that you transmit the STI after without the partner's knowledge you can be held legally responsible.

So the best thing to do to avoid breaking the law is before the sexual act (which could transmit the infection) is to tell your partner.

Super condom with cape

Preventing STIs

The best way to prevent getting an STI is to not have sex. Some STIs can’t be cured, so if you are going to have sex you should always practice safer sex, or find ways to be intimate in a romantic relationship without having sex. This means preventing the passing of body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, and avoiding direct oral, anal, or genital contact (by using a latex condom).

If one does decide to have sex, one should:

Other ways to prevent getting an STI include:

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Helpful Links

Support Group Links

Health Center Links