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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs/STIs)

Last updated on Sunday, December 23, 2012

For those who have read or watched Harry Potter series, the phrase "the Ones That Must Not Be Named" may remind you of Lord Voldemort. He may be a pain in the neck for the magical community, but I would argue he is not as painful as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), known more commonly as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STDs/STIs are among the biggest issues in the public health community (and the real world in which we reside). Let's break down some myths and facts of STIs.

MYTH: STIs do not concern me because they are so rare.

FACT: One in four in the US will get STI at some point in his/her live. That means protecting yourself is important!

MYTH: It is easy to tell who has STIs.

FACT: Most people who are infected show no symptoms. The best way to know is by getting tested.

MYTH: STDs can easily be cured.

FACT: Nope! Believe it or not, the most common STDs, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS, cannot be cured! If you get them, you will keep them for life and possibly transmit them to your partner(s). Treatment is available, but it is not equal to cure!

MYTH: Talking a doctor about STIs is embarrassing and not helpful.

FACT: Although it takes some courage to talk to your health care providers about sex and STIs, they are experts at exploring options with you regarding treatments of STIs and prevention strategies. All the services are completely confidential, and they are trained to be there!

MYTH: STIs can only be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex.

FACT: Oral sex is also a common way of transmittance.

MYTH: If I want to let my partner(s) know that I am STI-positive, the only option is talking to them directly.

FACT: Although directly disclosing your status is an option of stopping the spread of STIs, there are other ways of letting your partner know as well. For instance, anonymous notification services are available from different clinics.

Here is a list of the most common STDs/STIs:

  • Chlamydia: It is the most common STD among young adults. It usually has no symptoms, but abnormal discharge and burning sensation around the penis or vagina are common.
  • Genital Warts: It is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and may develop in the mouth or throat. Warts may take the form in cauliflower shape, but sometimes they are so small that it is difficult to spot using naked eyes. Some swelling is possible in the genital area as well as itching and discomfort. Some people also report bleeding with intercourse. See HPV for more information.
  • Genital Herpes: It is an infection by the herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and can be spread through nonsexual activities such as kissing. Red bumps and open sores can be found on the penis or vagina. Some other symptoms, such as fever, headache, and burning near genital area, are also possible. Symptoms may go away and return, but many people show no signs of infections. Females have a higher risk of getting infected.
  • Gonorrhea: Symptoms include a burning sensation near the genital area and possibly yellowish or bloody discharge. They appear within a week to ten days of getting infected, but symptoms are not common.
  • Hepatitis B: Immunization is available, but there is no cure. Common symptoms include mild fever, muscle aches, headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. Dark-colored urine may also be seen, but 30% of patients do not show signs of infections. It may also develop into serious chronic diseases.
  • HIV/AIDS: Symptoms may not be shown for more than ten years. Frequent yeast infections, extreme fatigue, and rapid weight loss are very common signs. Getting tested is important in order to get treatment as soon as possible.
Tags: aidschlamydiagenital wartsgonorrheahepatitisherpeshivinfectionspartnerssexstdsstis


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