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Sexually Transmitted Infections or Diseases (STDs)

These are infections that are obtainable through vaginal, anal and oral sex.  This list includes the following:       

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital Herpes
  • Genital Warts/HPV
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Syphilis
  • Chancroid
  • Genital Lice
  • Scabies
  • Trichomoniasis

Each of the above will be discussed below with attention taken to the type of infection, how it is diagnosed, how it is transmitted, treatment of the disease and its effects on the body.   Remember STDs can be prevented with condom use and discussion about testing with your health care provider is important. 

HIV/AIDS

  • Caused by the human immunedeficiency virus
  • HIV attacks the human immune system and prevents it from protecting the body from infection and disease
  • Can be obtained through vaginal/oral/anal sex with an infected partner
  • Diagnosed by a blood test
  • There have been rare cases where it has taken years from exposure for someone to become positive by blood test – typical time frame is six months.
  • There is NO CURE
  • Lifelong medication and very expensive therapy
  • Prevention by use of condoms and dental dams, not sharing IV needles
  • Leads to brain, skin, stomach and lung defects and infections and eventual DEATH

Chlamydia

  • Caused by the bacteria, “Chlamydia Trachomatis”  that commonly infects the genitals, anus and throat 
  • MOST COMMON STD
  • Women under 25 years of age may be screened annually
  • “Silent” infection – usually there are no symptoms in women
  • Symptoms can include an abnormal vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, burning with urination and puss in the urine and can occur 1-3 weeks after exposure
  • Obtained through vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected partner
  • Diagnosed with a culture of the cervix
  • If left untreated may result in pelvic pain and scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility
  • Can often be found in conjunction with Gonorrhea
  • Treatment is with antibiotics for cure

Genital Herpes

  • Caused by the Herpes virus
  • Symptoms are “painful” blisters occurring around the anus, vagina or mouth and may heal with scarring
  • Maybe spread to/from the mouth (cold sores)
  • Obtained from vaginal, oral or anal sex from infected partner (skin to skin contact)
  • Transmission can occur prior to blister formation
  • NO CURE
  • Treatment with antiviral medication will shorten the time of outbreak
  • Suppressive therapy is recommended to prevent spread

Genital Warts/HPV (human papilloma virus)

  • Caused by the human papilloma virus
  • Symptoms are “painless” growths that appear like warts in the genital, anal or oral areas
  • Can be associated with cervical cancer
  • Obtained from having vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected partner
  • Treatment through surgery or medicine but this only treats the lesions, no treatment of the virus
  • Young women may get rid of the virus over time
  • Vaccine now available to prevent most common types of the virus that cause cervical cancer, but generally will not prevent warts

Gonorrhea

  • Caused by the bacteria, “Neisseria Gonorrhoeae”, that again infects the genitals, anus and throat
  • Obtained from vaginal, oral or anal sex with infected partner
  • Women typically have no symptoms, but men generally have a white thick discharge from penis
  • Diagnosed by a cervical culture
  • Can often be found with Chlamydia
  • May lead to pelvic pain and scarring of pelvis, infertility
  • Treatment is with antibiotics

Hepatitis (Both B and C)

  • Forms of Hepatitis that are sexually transmitted include B and C
  • Caused by either the hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus
  • Hepatitis B consists of two stages: acute or chronic
  • Acute hepatitis B (HBV) appears in the first nine months of exposure and consists of symptoms loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea, yellow skin, vomiting, joint pain or white colored stools
  • Only 30% of infected HBV people will have acute symptoms and 70% of people are unaware of symptoms
  • 1% of people with HBV will go on to develop fulminant liver failure
  • Majority of people will recover after the acute phase, eradicate the B virus from their body and develop immunity to any future exposure
  • Minority will go on to chronic hepatitis B infection where they remain infectious and may go on to develop liver compromise including cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer
  • Vaccination to Hepatitis B is available should be offered to everyone
  • Hepatitis C (HCV) also has an acute and chronic stage but 50% of people exposed will develop symptoms (between 2-15 weeks of exposure)
  • HCV symptoms include loss of appetite, belly pain and yellow skin
  • HCV is a chronic disease that does not leave the body and can be diagnosed by a blood test or liver biopsy
  • HCV can cause severe cases or cirrhosis and reduced liver function and can lead to fluid in the abdomen (called ascites), yellow skin, kidney and heart problems, difficulty with digesting drugs and food
  • No cure for Hepatitis C or Hepatitis B and HCV is generally more serious
  • Avoidance of alcohol, new medications, herbal supplements and certain foods
  • Interferon alpha and antiviral drugs may help with liver inflammation
  • Transmitted through bodily fluids (blood, semen and vaginal secretions) and can be transmitted through infected needles (tattoo/IV drug use)

Syphilis

  • Caused by a bacteria called “Treponema Pallidum”
  • Obtained from vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected partner, but can be passed from an open sore
  • Diagnosed by a blood test
  • Infection passes through three identifiable stages
  • First stage is characterized by a painless lesion, “chancre” on the genitals
  • Second stage that is characterized by rash (hands and soles of the feet), fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite and fatigue
  • Third stage can develop within 1-3 years and involves the nervous system, heart, the skin and the bones and can lead to organ failure
  • Treatment is with antibiotics

Chancroid

  • Caused by a bacteria called, “Haemophilus Ducreyi”
  • Obtained through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse with an infected partner
  • Painful vaginal sores with swollen lymph nodes occur 3-10 days after infection
  • Symptoms may also include painful urination, vaginal discharge, pain with bowel movement, rectal bleeding, fever and fatigue
  • Diagnosis with a culture
  • Treatment is with antibiotics and drainage of enlarged lymph node

Genital Lice

  • Caused by the “crab louse” or phthirus pubis or small 6 legged bug
  • Obtained from close contact and spreads from the genital hair of one partner to the other
  • Lays eggs at the base of the hair and hatches in 5-10 days
  • Causes intense itching and small red bumps
  • Treatment for cure is with “Quell” soap
  • Associated with “social” embarrassment

Scabies

  • Caused by female mites which burrow under the skin and lay their eggs
  • Causes skin irritation and intense itching at night
  • Spread by close contact (including sexual contact)
  • Diagnosed by exam
  • Leaves ugly scars (mainly the legs) where mites burrow under skin
  • Treatment is with special lotions and sprays

Trichomoniasis

  • Caused by the one cell organism/protozoan
  • Obtained through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse
  • Primarily a woman’s disease
  • Diagnosed by evaluation of vaginal discharge
  • Symptoms include malodorous itchy vaginal discharge and painful urination
  • Diagnose is by exam
  • Treatment is with antibiotics

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