The Facts on STD’s

Posted on April 20, 2011


April is STD Awareness Month and one way to help prevent STD’s is by simply being informed. There are a number of diseases you can contract through sex and it is important that you familiarize yourself the facts. Take a look below to learn valuable information you should know about the most common STD’s.


Pubic Lice (Crabs)
What is it? Pubic lice are small, six-legged creatures that infect the pubic hair area and lay eggs.
How do you get pubic lice? Usually it is transmitted through sexual activity. However, it is possible to contract pubic lice through sharing bedding or clothing with an infected person.
What are the symptoms? Intense itching in areas covered by pubic hair, Sores (lesions) in the genital area due to bites and scratching
How is it treated? Pubic lice are best treated with a prescription wash such as Elimite or Kwell, a single treatment is all that is usually needed.


Genital Herpes
What is it? A sexually transmitted viral infection affecting the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals.
How do you get it? You may be infected with herpes when your skin, vagina, penis, or mouth comes into contact with someone who already has herpes.
What are the symptoms? Fluid-filled blisters that form painful, crusted sores on the genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks.
How is it treated? Genital herpes cannot be cured. However, antiviral drugs can make outbreaks less frequent and help clear up symptoms more quickly.


What is it? Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease.
How do you get Chlamydia? Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.
What are the symptoms? Chlamydia generally has no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, you might notice a burning feeling when you urinate or abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis. Chlamydia can also infect the rectum and throat. In woman, if untreated, the infection of the reproductive system can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility or serious problems with pregnancy.
How is it treated? You can cure Chlamydia with antibiotics. A single dose of azithromycin or a week of doxycycline (twice daily) are the most commonly used treatments. Women whose sex partners have not been appropriately treated are at high risk for re-infection. Having multiple infections increases a woman’s risk of serious reproductive health complications, including infertility.


What is it? Like Chlamydia, syphilis is also caused by bacteria. How do you get Syphilis? You usually get syphilis from sexual contact with someone who already has it. It can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms? The early stage of syphilis usually causes a single, small, painless sore. Sometimes it causes swelling in nearby lymph nodes. If you do not treat it, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash, often on your hands and feet. Many people do not notice symptoms for years
How is it treated? Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages with antibiotics. Treatment will kill the syphilis bacterium and prevent further damage, but it will not repair damage already done.


What is it? Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract. It can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.
How do you get gonorrhea? It is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. It can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery.Any sexually active person can become infected with gonorrhea. But it has been reported that the highest rates of infection are active teens, young adults and African Americans.
What are the Symptoms? For men, burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles. For women, symptoms include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of symptoms. If left untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.
What is the treatment? Antibiotics have proved to be successful in curing gonorrhea, however, “drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing in many areas of the world, and successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult. People who have had gonorrhea and have been treated can get the disease again if they have sexual contact with persons infected with gonorrhea.


Hepatitis B
What is it? Hep B a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious long-term illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.”
How do you get Hep B? You can get Hep B by having sex with an infected partner. I can also be passed down through birth and spread from an infected mother to her baby. There are also other non-sexual way in which you can get Hep B, this includes sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment, sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person and direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
What are the symptoms? Some symptoms that can be developed can are fever fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay colored bowel movements and joint pain.
What is the treatment? There are tests available that can be used to diagnose Hep b. Of course consult your doctor in order receive more information on the different tests and their meanings. There are some treatments available for Hep b but not all medications will work for everybody. The easiest way to prevent or lower the risk of contracting this disease is to receive the Hep b vaccine.


HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
What is it? Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are common viruses that can cause warts. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Most are harmless, but about 30 types put you at risk for cancer. Some research suggests that at least three out of four people who have sex will get a genital HPV infection at some time during their lives.
How do you get HPV? HPV is primarily spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but sexual intercourse is not required for infection to occur. HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Sexual contact with an infected partner, regardless of the sex of the partner, is the most common way the virus is spread.
What are the symptoms? Whether symptoms occur or not can depend on the type of HPV virus involved in the infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Although some people develop genital warts from HPV infection, others have no symptoms. Some HPV types are associated with genital warts, although the warts are not always visible.
What is the treatment? In women, Pap smears can detect changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer. There is no cure for the virus (HPV) itself. There are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause, such as genital warts, cervical changes, and cervical cancer. HPV may go away on its own without causing any health problems. Additionally, FDA has approved vaccines that prevent certain diseases, including cervical cancer, caused by some types of HPV. Ask your doctor if you should get an HPV Vaccine.


What is it? HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells, a type of white blood cell that is vital to fighting off infection. The destruction of these cells leaves people infected with HIV vulnerable to other infections, diseases and other complications. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. A person infected with HIV is diagnosed with AIDS when he or she has one or more opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, and has a dangerously low number of CD4+ T cells.
How do you get HIV? You can get HIV through bodily fluids, including semen and vaginal secretions (through sexual contact with an infected person) and blood. There is no evidence that HIV infection is transmitted through saliva. Women with HIV infection can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy or delivery or through their breast milk.
What are the symptoms? In the first stages of HIV infection, most people will have very few, if any, symptoms. Within a month or two after infection, they may experience a flu-like illness, including: fever, headache, tiredness, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and groin area. During the late stages of HIV infection, the virus severely weakens the immune system, and people infected with the virus may have the following symptoms: rapid weight loss, recurring fever or profuse night sweats, extreme and unexplained tiredness, sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals pneumonia, red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids, memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
What are the treatments? Antiretroviral treatment is the main type of treatment for HIV or AIDS. It is not a cure, but it can stop people from becoming ill for many years. The treatment consists of drugs that have to be taken every day for the rest of a person’s life. The aim of antiretroviral treatment is to keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level. This stops any weakening of the immune system and allows it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already.


You may call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 to find out how to get tested, or if you need additional information on sexually transmitted infections, take a look at the National Library of Medicine here. The Boston Public Health Commission has also provided a great list of resources for you to check out.