STIs

A sexually transmitted disease (STD), also called sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD), is a disease transferred from one person to another through the act of having sex. The definition of sex includes all forms such as vaginal, oral, and/or anal. While sex is the most probable mode of transmission, STDs can also be transmitted during child birth, breast feeding, or contaminated drug needles.

STDs can result in a number of health problems if left untreated. STDs can cause cervical cancer, various abnormalities in pregnancy, and even cause damage to organs like the kidneys. When used correctly, condoms greatly decrease the chances of catching an STD; however, abstinence is the only full proof method of preventing an STD. I strongly encourage you to talk to your parents or healthcare provider to assess your risk and to gain the knowledge needed to protect yourself from curable (chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis) and incurable (HIV and herpes) STDs.

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is Herpes?

Genital Herpes is an STD that’s caused by herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). According to CDC, 776,000 people will get infected with the disease every year. A person gets genital herpes by having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who has it. The viruses can also be released from skin that does not appear to have a sore.

How do I know if I have it?

The first sign of a genital herpes infection includes one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take several weeks to heal. The first time someone has an outbreak they may also experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and swollen glands.

Can it be cured or treated?

Herpes is not curable, however it is a manageable condition. Your doctor can give you medication that can shorten outbreaks and reduce the likelihood of transmission to your partner.

Wearing a latex condom is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of genital herpes; however, any area not covered by a condom that comes into contact with an outbreak is subject to infection. The best way to avoid transmission of genital herpes is to abstain from sexual contact with partners when sores or other symptoms of herpes are present. And remember, even if a partner does not have any symptoms, he or she can still have this STD and infect others.

For more information about genital herpes and its symptoms, read the CDC post here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/STDFact-Herpes.htm.

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What are genital warts?

HPV is a virus that infects the genital areas, mouth or throat of both males and females. Health problems caused by HPV include warts on the genitals or throat, and in some cases cervical cancer in women. (Genital warts caused by HPV do not turn into cancer, even if left untreated.)

It is most often contracted through vaginal, anal or oral sex, but can be contracted through any genital contact.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How do I know if I have it?

Most people never develop symptoms with HPV, so many people who have contracted HPV do not know that they are infected with the virus or spreading it to others.

However, genital warts are one indicator of HPV, and left untreated the warts could increase in number or size.

Cancer-causing strands of HPV do not cause any symptoms until the cancer has advanced.

Can it be cured or treated?

There is no treatment for HPV, but there are some treatments for the health problems that result from HPV (genital/oral warts, cervical cancer) that can be provided through your doctor.

Although there is no cure for HPV, there are several preventative measures you can take to keep from contracting the disease. There are vaccines available for both males and females to prevent the contraction of HPV.

Regular visits to a gynecologist for screenings can be a huge factor in preventing HPV related cervical cancer and treating health issues caused by HPV.

Condoms can lower your chances of contracting HPV, but HPV can infect areas that are not covered by condoms – so condoms do not fully protect against HPV.

If you’re worried that either you of your partner has HPV, be sure to get tested.

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

Read more at the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm

What is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

HIV affects specific cells in your immune system (the part of your body that keeps you from getting sick), and it can eventually destroy enough cells that your body can no longer defend you against diseases or infections. Once this happens, HIV leads to AIDS.

As of 2009, 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS, but about 18% of them did not know they were infected. Young people and African Americans have a much higher risk of infection.

How do I know if I have it?

The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. Many people, who are infected with HIV, do not report any symptoms for 10 years or more. While some people do report having flu-like symptoms (as well as enlarged lymph nodes, rash, sore throat, or fever), this can also be a result of another illness.

Did you know: Mississippi and Florida are tied for the HIGHEST rates of HIV infection in 13-19 year olds?

This is so scary.

If you think you may be infected, it’s important to get tested by a doctor.

Can it be cured or treated?

While there is therapy that lengthens the lives of many people, the Center for Disease Control says, “For most people, the answer is no.” While scientists are working hard to find a cure, no safe and effective cure currently exists. For that reason, it is extremely important that people who think they may be infected get tested.

Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

So, how can you get HIV? This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood contact or by unprotected sexual activity. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People become infected with HIV from these bodily fluids: blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluids, breast milk.

How can you stop the spread of HIV? Know your status, get tested regularly if you’re sexually active and use condoms every time.

To learn more about HIV/AIDS, visit the CDC for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html and https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/oralsex.htm

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States. You can get infected with Chlamydia by having any form of sex (anal, vaginal or oral), and it can cause major, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs.

Most significantly, 1 in 15 females aged 14-19 years has Chlamydia.

How do I know if I have it?

Also known as a “silent” infection, Chlamydia often shows no symptoms in infected people. In other cases, symptoms may not appear until several weeks after infection.

Women, who do have symptoms, may feel a burning feeling while urinating. They also may experience a discharge (mucus-like substance) from the vagina. Untreated infections can spread through the reproductive system and cause pelvic or abdominal pain.

Men may also experience a burning feeling while urinating or a discharge (mucus-like substance) from the penis. In some cases, men may experience pain or swelling in one or both testicles.

Can it be cured or treated?

Yes. Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics; however, it is important to not have sex until after antibiotic treatment is complete.

Wearing a male latex condom is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of Chlamydia infection. Of course, not having sex is the only way to be 100% sure you’re not infected. Remember, even if a partner does not have any symptoms, he or she can still have Chlamydia. Don’t assume. Get tested.

For more information about genital herpes and its symptoms, read the CDC post here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is Gonohrrea?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that grows in areas of women’s reproductive tracts, in the urine canal of men and women, and in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.

It is particularly common among sexually active teenagers, young adults and African Americans.

It can be contracted through anal, vaginal or oral sex.

How do I know if I have it?

For Men:
Some men do not have any symptoms; however, symptoms can include a burning feeling while urinating – as well as a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis. Some men with gonorrhea have swollen or painful testicles.

For Women:
Most women do not have any symptoms. That said, symptoms can include a painful sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Even women with no symptoms are at risk of developing serious complications from infection.

For Men and Women:
For rectal infections, symptoms may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. There also may be no symptoms.

While throat infections usually have no symptoms, sore throat may be a symptom.

Can it be cured or treated?

It can be cured with medication; however, it is important that you take ALL medication prescribed to you. While medicine will stop the infection, it will not heal any permanent damage caused by gonorrhea.

Remember: The best treatment is prevention. If you do choose to have sex (anal, oral, or vaginal), using latex condoms correctly can help reduce the risk of spreading gonorrhea. If you’re unsure about whether you or your partner has gonorrhea, be sure to get tested first. Read more at the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is an STD that’s caused by a bacterium. According to CDC, over 55,000 people will get infected with the disease. A person gets syphilis by coming into direct contact with a person with a syphilis sore. Left untreated, syphilis can cause long-term complications and, in some cases, death.

How do I know if I have it?

The first sign of a syphilis infection is one or more small, painless sores on your body. They are most often found on your genitals (penis or vagina), anus or mouth. Left untreated, syphilis may also appear as a rash on your body – especially on the palms of your hand or the soles of your feet.

Can it be cured or treated?

In its early stages, syphilis can be treated with appropriate antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. It’s important to know that the symptoms of syphilis will go away with or without treatment; however, the infection will remain in your body – unless it’s treated.

Wearing a latex condom is one of the best ways to prevent syphilis infection; however, any area not covered by a condom that comes into contact with a syphilis sore is subject to infection.

For more information about syphilis and its symptoms, read the CDC post here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm.

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis (also called trich) is a common, curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasitic protozoa called Trichomonas vaginalis. More than one million new cases occur each year in the U.S. Trich may cause symptoms in women, but most men do not have symptoms. If you have trich, you are more likely to contract HIV if you are exposed–so getting tested and treated is important.

How do I know if I have it?

Trich is spread through sexual contact with an infected partner: this includes penis-to-vagina intercourse or genital-to-genital contact.

Using latex condoms correctly every time during sexual intercourse will
help reduce the risk of getting or spreading trichomoniasis.

Only about 30 percent of people that have trich develop any symptoms. Symptoms of trich are more common in women. These include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • A bad vaginal smell
  • Itching in or around the vagina
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating

Most men don’t have symptoms of trich but when they do, symptoms can include itching or irritation inside the penis, a discharge or pain when urinating.

Some people with symptoms of trich get them within 5 to 28 days after
being infected, but others do not develop symptoms until later.
Symptoms can come and go, and without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years.

Can it be cured or treated?

Trich is curable with antibiotics, but remember to use all the medicine prescribed, even if your symptoms go away. Sex partners must also be treated, or you will get trich again.

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

BV is an infection caused when too much of certain bacteria change the balance of bacteria in the vagina. It is the most common vaginal infection in women, ages 15-44.

BV is not considered an STI, but having BV can increase your chances of getting one. BV may also affect women who have never had sex.

How do I keep from getting it?

Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and douching can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk for getting BV.

Although doctors do not understand how BV is spread, the following prevention steps may help lower your risk of developing BV:

  • Not having sex
  • Limiting your number of sex partners
  • Not douching

How do I know if I have it?

Many women with BV have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may notice a thin white or gray vaginal discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning in the vagina. Some women have a strong odor, especially after sex. You may also have burning when urinating; itching around the outside of the vagina, or both.

Can it be cured or treated?

BV will sometimes go away without treatment. But if you have symptoms of BV you should be checked and treated. It is important that you take all of the medicine prescribed to you, even if your symptoms go away. A health care provider can treat BV with antibiotics, but BV can recur even after treatment.

Male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated. However, BV may be transferred between female sex partners.

If you don’t get treated, BV can cause some serious health risks:

  • Increasing your chance of getting HIV if you have sex with someone who is infected with HIV
  • Making it more likely that you will deliver your baby too early if you have BV while pregnant
  • Increasing your chance of getting other STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea

Need to get tested? Visit our Clinic Finder to find a Mississippi health center near you.

Fact Not Fiction | STIs