Sexually Transmitted Infections, aka STIs, are super common!
You may have heard them called STDs before. The World Health Organization (WHO) now calls them STIs because it’s a more inclusive term. They’re manageable, treatable, and definitely worth talking about.Here you’ll find ways to avoid, detect, and treat STIs to keep you and the people you care about safe.
Chlamydia is a very common STI, especially among young people.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be easily cured with antibiotic medicine.
Symptoms: Most people with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms, but those who do might have unusual genital discharge and/or pain and burning when urinating. People with a uterus may also have lower back or abdominal pain, nausea, pain during sex, or bleeding after sex and/or between periods.
If left untreated, chlamydia may also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Gonorrhea is a common STI, and you may have heard this STI referred to as “the clap”
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be cured with antibiotics.
Symptoms: Many people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. Those who do might notice unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and/or pain or difficulty peeing. Some people may have swelling in their testicles. Additionally, women may bleed in between periods.
If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility without ever showing symptoms. It can also spread to the blood and joints.
Hepatitis B is an infection that can cause liver disease. Some people can only be sick for a few weeks, but for others, the disease can progress to serious illness.
There are no specific cures for Hepatitis B. There are vaccines available and post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection. There are also medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.
Herpes is a common STI and a lot of people who have it don’t even know.
There are two strains called HSV-1 and HSV-2 that can be transmitted by direct contact with blisters or sores during anal, vaginal or oral sex.
Symptoms: Painful blisters or sores on the genitals, rectum and mouth is the most common symptom of the herpes virus. Women may also have sores on their cervix.
There is no cure for herpes, but there is treatment that can lessen symptoms and decrease the likelihood of passing it on to someone else.
REMEMBER: You can still get herpes even if no sores are present!
There are over 1 million people in the US who are living with an HIV/AIDS infection
HIV is mainly transmitted by vaginal or anal sex, and this STI can be passed during pregnancy or childbirth.
HIV is an infection that attacks the body’s defense system – the immune system. Without a strong immune system, white blood cells, the body is unable to fight off infections and illness.
Symptoms: Most HIV infections don’t have any symptoms. A person infected with HIV can appear healthy and symptom-free for many years. If HIV leads to AIDS, serious symptoms can develop and can ultimately lead to death. Signs and symptoms may include everything from fever and rashes to lesions, soaking night sweats and blurred vision.
HPV is the most common STI and at least 80% of sexually active people will get it at some time in their lives.The body usually clears HPV on its own without causing any problems!
Symptoms: Most of the time there are no symptoms and the virus clears on its own, but several types can cause genital warts or lead to vaginal, anal, throat and cervical cancer. If warts are present, they mainly appear on the cervix, vulva, or anus.
There is a vaccine to help prevent HPV! It’s recommended to start getting at 11-12 years old and can help prevent strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
Scabies are parasites that infect the skin and cause really intense itching. Scabies are transferred by skin-to-skin contact and can occur anywhere on the body. This means that while scabies can be passed through sexual contact, it is usually passed through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact.
Symptoms: Scabies can cause intense itching and rashes. Itching and rashes can affect all of the body, but can occur in areas like between the fingers. Also, itching may become more severe at night.
Prescription creams called scabicides can be used to treat scabies. These creams kill the mites and some also kill the eggs. The cream will be applied to the skin from the neck down to the toes and washed off after 8-14 hours. There is also an antibiotic that can be taken by mouth in a single dose, followed by another single dose two weeks later.
This STI is transmitted by direct contact with an open sore. There are four stages of syphilis and each stage can have different symptoms.
Early signs may include a small, painless, firm sore in or around the vagina, penis, mouth or anus. This can be followed by rash on the body that is particularly noticeable on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
A diagnosis is made usually using a blood test. Early-diagnosed syphilis can be treated and cured easily with an injection of penicillin (preferred) or 14 days of antibiotics (for patients allergic to penicillin). For people who have syphilis that was undiagnosed for more than one year, it can be treated and cured with a longer course of stronger antibiotics (an injection once a week for three weeks).
Syphilis can be passed to a fetus, and an infected baby may develop serious health problems if not treated.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI. Millions of people are infected each year in the United States. This STI is usually passed during vaginal sex by an infected person.
Symptoms: Women may experience more symptoms than men. Signs in women include excessive, frothy, yellowish, or greenish vaginal discharge. There may also be swelling of the vulva and labia along with painful urination. Symptoms in men may include painful urination with lesions on the penis, but most men with trichomoniasis will have no symptoms.
If left untreated, this STI can lead to preterm birth for people who are pregnant and infected. Trichomoniasis is curable with antibiotics.