are a wide variety of STD's (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
out there. They are contracted by many means, have many different
symptoms and can cause a variety of health issues to your body
from a minor rash to death. Please spend some time reading the
different STD's that can be contracted if you are, or are thinking
of becoming sexually active.
Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (GENITAL WARTS)
AIDS is an acronym for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
It is caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The disease was first recognized in the United States in homosexual
men in the early 1980's and in the mid 80's the virus that causes
the disease was identified. Infection by HIV may or may
not cause an initial flu like syndrome with rash which generally
subsides after a few weeks. Most people then become
asymptomatic until the virus weakens the immune system enough
for them to be afflicted by unusual infections or malignancies
(cancer). HIV is passed from one person to another primarily
by 3 main routes:
1. Sexual contact. This includes vaginal and anal
sex. Oral sex can also transmit the virus, especially if
an individual has small abrasions or cuts in their mouth.
2. Injection of the virus into the blood stream by intravenous
drug use, blood transfusion, tattoo needles, piercings, etc.
Intravenous drug use is by far the most likely mode of transmission
in this category. Blood which is transfused in hospitals
in this country is relatively safe and is routinely checked for
evidence of HIV infection. You cannot get HIV by donating
blood! Tattoos and piercings will not transmit HIV if clean,
sterile needles are used. Needles should never be
re-used for tattoos or piercings.
3. Passage of the virus from a pregnant mother to her baby.
HIV can pass from an infected mother to her baby in the uterus,
during the birth of the baby as it moves through the birth canal,
or through breast milk.
are a variety of medications that people infected with HIV can
take to delay the virus's destruction of their immune system.
Unfortunately HIV infection cannot be cured at this time.
Some people can live for years without apparent illness, while
others quickly become very sick and die. However, all people infected
with HIV may spread the virus to others even if they do not feel
Testing for HIV infection is usually done by detecting the presence
of an antibody to the virus. Because it can take about 6
weeks for a person to develop HIV antibodies, the test is not
accurate in very early infections. Home test kits for HIV
have been developed, but have not been shown to be as accurate
as the regular blood test performed by doctors, clinics etc.
If you are concerned you may have HIV infection, get a blood test
from your doctor, a public health clinic, family planning clinic,
Chancroid is an unusual venereal disease
caused by a bacterium called Hemophilus ducreyi. It produces
a draining ulcer which may be up 1 to 2 inches in size.
The ulcer occurs on the penis or the labia (lips of the vagina).
The ulcer which is also called a chancre is usually not particularly
painful, but the lymph nodes in the groin are usually very tender
and swollen. About 4000 cases occur in the United States
every year. The disease is much more prevalent in Asia,
West Indies, and north Africa. The disease is transmitted
primarily by sexual intercourse especially if there are skin
or mucus membrane abrasions.
About 4 million cases of chlamydia
are diagnosed every year and it is estimated that 1 in 10 teen-age
girls are infected with chlamydia. Unfortunately chlamydia
infections are often asymptomatic in females and go untreated
leading to chronic infections. This can result in pelvic
inflammatory disease which is inflammation and infection of
the upper female reproductive tract including the uterus, fallopian
tubes and ovaries. The infection can lead to scarring
and ultimately infertility. Fortunately, if detected,
chlamydia is treatable and curable. Chlamydia infection
in males is usually symptomatic causing pain and burning on
urination and forcing men to seek treatment. Therefore chronic
infections in males are less common. Female partners of men
with chlamydia (also called non-gonococcal urethritis) should
always be treated even if they feel fine.
Hepatits B is an inflammation of the
liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B is spread
in a similar fashion as the HIV virus. The 3 main methods of transmission of
hepatitis B are:
1. Injection of the virus into the blood stream by intravenous
drug use, blood transfusion, needle sticks, piercings etc.
Blood transfusion is now relatively safe because the donated blood
supply is routinely screened for evidence of hepatitis B infection.
You cannot get hepatitis B by donating blood. Intravenous
drug use is the category most likely to spread hepatitis B, however
any puncture by a dirty, non-sterile needle can result in infection.
2. Sexual and intimate contact may transmit hepatitis B
because the virus has been shown to reside in vaginal secretions,
semen and saliva.
3. Spread of the virus from pregnant mother to child.
Hepatitis B can be spread to the baby in the uterus or during
the birth process. This route of transmission is very common
in Asia and Africa and explains the very high incidence of hepatitis
B in these areas of the world.
a person is exposed to the hepatitis B virus they may not become
ill for 1 to 5 months. Then the infected individual will
begin to show symptoms which include fever and jaundice (yellowing
of the skin due accumulation of a substance called bilirubin).
This period of symptomatic disease may last weeks to months.
Most adults are able to then clear the virus completely from their
bodies. Unfortunately about 10% of people do not eliminate
the virus and become long term carriers of the virus. This occurs
more often in children and infants. These people can continue
to spread the virus to others and often suffer continued inflammation
of the liver. Long term carriers of hepatitis B are also
at an increased risk of developing cancer of the liver.
Papilloma Virus (Warts)
There are many types of HPV (Human
Papilloma Virus) all of which cause warty growths. Some
variants of the virus cause warts on the skin. Other variants
cause growths in the throat or nose, and other variants cause
warty growths on the penis, female genitalia or anus. Generally
HPV types are specific for certain locations. For example,
viral types that cause warts on the skin do not cause warts on
Genital HPV infection is very common
and it is frequently without symptoms in both the male and female.
On occasion growths that are visible to the naked eye may be seen
on the penis or vulva but this is not the rule. The danger
of HPV infection, especially in females, is its link to cancer
of the uterine cervix. There are certain types of HPV that
are particularly prone to cause cancer. This is why pap
smear screening is so important in women and sexually active teen-age
If you are infected with HPV do not panic,
because often the infection can be treated by your gynecologist
in the office. Sometimes a person's own immune system can
also rid themselves of the infection. To protect yourself
from cervical cancer the most important thing you can do is get
your annual pap smear!
HPV is also linked to penile cancer
in the male. However penile cancer is not as common in men as
cervical cancer is in women.
Gonorrhea is a very common venereal disease
caused by a bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Symptoms
usually occur several days after exposure to the bacteria.
The male will often experience burning on urination as well as
a discharge from the penis. Females may have some irritation
on urination or a discharge, but are often without symptoms.
If treated promptly with appropriate antibiotics, the infection
is completely cured. If not treated, males may develop long
term inflammation of the male reproductive tract leading to
scarring and infertility. Similar inflammation of the female
reproductive tract called pelvic inflammatory disease may develop
in untreated cases likewise leading to infertility. The infection
can also spread into the abdominal cavity causing pain and inflammation
around the liver. If the bacteria reaches the blood
stream, it may lead to arthritis.
Gonorrhea may also be spread by oral
and/or anal sex. In these situations infection will be manifested
by a sore throat or irritated, inflamed anal area
Although gonorrhea is usually readily
treated with appropriate antibiotics. Some of the bacteria have
begun to show antibiotic resistance
This disease is very uncommon in the
United States. It is most prevalent in New Guinea and India
and is caused by a tiny bacterium. For unknown reasons it
is more common in men than women. It causes a large, ulcerating
creeping sore on genitalia and adjacent skin. It can be
treated with antibiotics.
Pubic lice may be but are not always
spread by sexual contact. The lice and their eggs cling
to pubic hair causing severe itching. Medicated washes and
shampoos are available to treat pubic lice. Clothing and
bedding should also be decontaminated.
Lymphogranuloma venereum is unusual in
the United States. Most cases are imported from tropical
countries where the disease is much more common. It begins
as a small sore on the genitals, anus or mouth/throat. Later
lymph nodes near the initial site become very swollen and tender.
If left untreated scarring and deformity can occur.
Scabies is caused by a mite ( a type
of tiny insect) that burrows into the skin and lays eggs.
It is transmitted by close physical contact among people.
This includes sexual contact or close household contact.
A rash develops with severe itching. It its treatable with
medicated lotions and decontamination of bedding and clothing.
All sexual contacts and household members should be treated.
Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called
Treponema pallidum. Syphilis was once a terrible scourge
on mankind because of the severe long term consequences of the
infection including insanity and severe heart and vessel disease.
Now syphilis is readily treated with antibiotics if detected.
People infected with syphilis pass through 3 stages of illness:
1. The primary stage is manifested by a sore that may ulcerate.
It is called a chancre (but is not the same as the chancre of "chancroid".) The sore
may be present on the genitalia, anus, lips etc. Unfortunately
in about 50% of females and 30% of males this primary lesion of
early syphilis is not apparent.
2. In the second stage of syphilis,
infected individuals get a rash in the mouth, the palms of the
hands and the soles of the feet. Sometimes the lymph nodes
may also be swollen.
3. The third stage of syphilis (late
or tertiary syphilis) is now fortunately very rare because most
patients are treated by the time they reach stage 2. Late
syphilis causes inflammation of the largest artery in the body,
the aorta. It also can affect the brain and neurologic system.
It is a very serious disease with debilitating consequences.
Syphilis may be spread sexually but may also be spread from an
infected mother to her baby in the womb. The infected baby
may be stillborn or may suffer blindness and severe organ , bone
and joint damage. This disease is called congenital syphilis.
Trichomonas infection is caused by a
parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. It sometimes produces a
frothy, foul smelling discharge in infected women. Men are
often without symptoms, although occasionally there may be discharge
or painful urination. The infection is treatable with appropriate
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