Cover Your Lover: STD Facts

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1 The Gable Health Center has partnered with the Pennsylvania State Department of Health to raise STD awareness in the Albright Community through the Cover Your Lover campaign. With approximately 12 million new cases of STDs occurring annually in the United States, this is a prominent issue in today s society. The Health Center would like to provide you with the basics on the major types of STDs and how to prevent each. Chlamydia Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States (about 2.8 million infections occur annually) and women who are sexually active should be tested for this disease every year. This disease is caused by a bacterium and can infect both men and women but can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman s reproductive organs. People can get this infection through vaginal, anal, or oral sex and most people who are infected have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may not appear until several weeks after exposure. Women may show symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. Men may have discharge from their penis, a burning sensation when urinating, pain or swelling in one or both testicles (although less common). For both men and women, Chlamydia can affect the rectum either through anal sex or it can possibly spread from the cervix and vagina. This may cause rectal pain, discharge, and/or bleeding. If left untreated in women, Chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which can cause permanent damage to a woman s reproductive tract. The results of this damage can lead to long-term pelvic pain, the inability to become pregnant and a pregnancy outside the uterus, which could be potentially deadly. In men, complications are rare but can include pain, fever, and possibly infertility. A urine test or cotton swab samples are the two ways to test for Chlamydia. The disease can be treated and cured with antibiotics, but repeat infection is common if prevention is not practiced. Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a disease also caused by bacterium. It grows easily in warm and moist areas and can affect both men and women. Annually, more than 700,000 people are infected. This disease is contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex and can be transmitted via fluids even if the man does not ejaculate. Some people who have gonorrhea do not experience any symptoms. For men, the most common symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis that usually appears 1 to 14 days after infection. The testicles may also become painful or swollen. For women, the symptoms may be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. There may be a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increase vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. For both men and women, in rectal infections discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding and painful bowel movements may occur, however, no symptoms may occur.

2 A urine test or cotton swab can be used to test for gonorrhea. Treating and curing this disease is more complicated. Drug-resistant strains of this disease are becoming more apparent, therefore, Ceftriaxone, an antibiotic, administered through an intramuscular injection, is the most common, current, treatment. Genital Herpes Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). About one out of six people between the ages of 14 to 49 have type 2 genital herpes and it is more common in females than males. This disease is contracted through anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Most individuals with HSV-1 or HSV-2 experience either no symptoms or very mild symptoms that can be mistaken for another skin condition. If symptoms do occur, they appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Once the blisters break, they leave painful sores that may take two or four weeks to fully heal. These outbreaks are worse during the first year of having the infection and decrease over time. Genital herpes is diagnosed by an examination by a health care provider (the Health Center!) during an outbreak. Between outbreaks, infections can be diagnosed with a blood test. Because this is a viral infection, there is no current cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can prevent or shorten outbreaks and daily suppression therapy (daily use of antiviral medication) can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners. HIV HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency virus, or AIDS. In 2006, about 56,000 people contracted HIV. There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. Unless noted, HIV refers to HIV-1. The most common ways HIV is spread is through unprotected sex, having multiple partners, sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection, or being born to an infected mother. Less common ways are being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object; receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV; or contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids. Both types of HIV affect a person s body by destroying specific blood cells, CD4+ T cells, which help the body fight diseases. After being infected, some people develop flu-like symptoms that last for a week or two or people have no symptoms at all. People can experience no symptoms for years, but the disease is still affecting their body.

3 To diagnose HIV, tests to detect HIV antibodies are administered. There are also tests to look for HIV s genetic material or proteins directly. Antibodies can take several weeks to develop within the body. Current treatment for HIV includes medication which can limit or slow down the destruction of the immune system, improve health, reduce the ability of HIV transmission. If left untreated, early HIV infection is associated with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer. AIDS is the late stage of the HIV infection. This happens when a person s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers. Due to highly active combinations of medications, the progression from HIV to AIDS can take decades, compared to former decades where the infection could spread within a few years. Genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Currently, there are more than 40 types of HPV that can affect both men and women. This infection is passed through genital contact, most often during vaginal or anal sex. This infection can last for years in the body, so a person can be infected by someone who they were sexually active with years ago. In 90% of cases, the immune system naturally clears HPV within two years. But, if the infection is not cleared, genital warts, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) (a condition in which warts grow in the throat), and cervical cancer can occur. Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can appear a week or months after sexual contact. They are not cancerous and may go away over time. Health Care Providers (the Health Center!) can diagnose and treat genital warts. Cervical cancer does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced, but it can be picked up on a screening pap smear. Syphillis Syphilis is caused by a bacterium and is easily treated if diagnosed in the early stages. However, if not treated early, it can lead to long-term complications and/or death. In 2011, there were 46,042 new cases of syphilis; 13,970 of those cases were of primary and secondary syphilis (the earliest and most infections stages of syphilis). In 2011, 72% of the primary and secondary syphilis occurred among men having sex with men. The transmission of syphilis from person to person occurs by direct contact with sores caused by syphilis. These sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. They can be transmitted during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. The average time between infection and the appearance of the first symptom is usually twentyone days, but this can range from 10 to 90 days. There are three stages in which syphilis occurs. The primary stage is marked by the appearance of a single sore, but there may be multiple sores. The sore will appear at the location the disease entered the body and is usually firm, round, and painless. Due to the sore being painless, it usually goes unnoticed and will last three to six weeks before

4 healing, even without treatment. Without treatment, however, the infection will progress to the secondary stage. The progression leads to skin rashes and/or sores in the mouth, anus, or vagina. The secondary stage usually begins with a rash in multiple areas of the body; either while the first sore is healing or a few weeks after the first sore has healed. There is no itching that is involved in this rash and may appear rough, red, or reddish brown on the palms of the hands and/or bottoms of the feet. It can look like rashes caused by other disease. Large, raised, gray or white lesions may develop in warm, moist areas such as the mouth, underarm or groin region but may be so faint that they are unnoticed. Other symptoms of the secondary stage include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue. These symptoms will go away with or without treatment, but without treatment, the progression into the late and latent stages will occur. When the symptoms of the primary and secondary stages disappear, a person is in the latent, or hidden, stage of the disease, which can last for years. About 15% of people who have untreated syphilis develop the late stage, which can appear ten to thirty years after the infection first begun. Symptoms of this stage include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. Also in the late stage, the disease damages the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. This damage can result in death. The most common way to diagnose syphilis is through a blood test. Another way is for a health care provider to examine the material from a syphilis sore using a dark-field microscope. The syphilis bacteria will appear when observed under this special microscope. Treatment for syphilis includes antibiotics prescribed by a physician. Although it will kill the bacteria, it will not repair any damage previously done. Follow up testing is recommended with health care providers to be sure that treatment was successful. Re-infection can occur. Trichomoniasis Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a protozoan type parasite called trichomonas. The symptoms of this disease vary and most men and women who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected. An estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% develop any symptoms. It is more common in women than men, and older women than younger women. The disease is transmitted during sex. In women, the most common place of infection is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, or urethra). In men, the most common place is the inside of the penis; the urethra). For the 30% of people who develop symptoms, the degree of symptoms can vary from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Symptoms can happen five to twenty-eight days after infection or the symptoms can occur much later, and they can come and go.

5 Men may feel itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation, or some discharge from the penis. Women may notice itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort with urination, or a thin discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish. Having sex can become uncomfortable and without treatment, the infection can last for months or years. Trichomoniasis cannot be diagnosed based on symptoms alone. A laboratory test or looking at a sample under the microscope is necessary to diagnose this disease. With a single dose of prescription antibiotic medication (either metronidazole or tinidazole), this infection can be cured. People who have been treated for trichomoniasis can become infected again. Prevention methods are the same for all of these STDs. These methods include: the use of condoms or abstaining from sex until in a monogamous relationship with someone who does not have the infection. If you would like to be tested for any of these infections, you can set up an appointment with the Gable Health Center by calling Sources:

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