Sexually Transmitted Infections
March 14, 2019
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that you can catch from sex or from sex play. Common STI’s include gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes (also called herpes simplex virus or HSV), genital warts (also called human papillomavirus or HPV), hepatitis, syphilis, trichomoniasis, mycoplasma genitalium, and HIV (which is the virus that causes AIDS).
Many of these STIs don’t cause any symptoms, so a person can have an STI and not even know it. This is why it’s important to be screened for STIs. Some symptoms of STIs include genital pain, discharge, itching, sores or lesions. If you have any new genital symptoms or lesions, you should definitely be screened. In addition, the following categories of people should be screened:
●All men and women age 13-64 should get screened for HIV at least once, and more often if they do not use safer sex practices
●All girls and women younger than 25 years who have had sex should be screened every year for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
●Women 25 and older who have sex with more than one partner and do not use condoms should be screened every year for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
●All men and women born between 1945 and 1965 should be screened for hepatitis C. Also, anyone who has had sex with a person infected with hepatitis C should be screened.
●Pregnant women should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and hepatitis B. Some pregnant women might also need to be screened for other infections depending on their sex habits.
●Men and women who are infected with HIV should be screened at least once for hepatitis A, B, and C. They should also be screened at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Women who are infected with HIV should be screened at least once a year for trichomonas. Men who are infected with HIV, and who have sex with men with HIV, should be screened at least once a year for hepatitis C.
●Men who have sex with men should be screened at least once for hepatitis A, B, and C. They should also be screened at least once a year for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
If you do test positive for a sexually transmitted infection, there is often a treatment that can be prescribed. The type of treatment varies depending on what type of infection you have. Some treatments cure the infection, and some keep it from getting worse. Treatment can also decrease your chances of passing the infection on to someone else. It is important that you notify your sex partner(s) if you are diagnosed with an STI so that they can seek appropriate treatment as well.
There is no way to completely avoid infection with an STI other than avoiding sex or sexual play. However, there are ways to decrease your chances of infection.
●The most important thing you can do is to wear a condom every time you have sex. Both male and female condoms can protect against STIs. But be aware that male condoms made out of "natural materials," such as sheep intestine, do not protect against STIs.
●Ask your doctor if there are any vaccines you should have. If you are 26 years old or younger, you should get a vaccine to protect against HPV, the virus that causes genital warts. If you do not have hepatitis B and have not already gotten the vaccine for hepatitis B, you can get that vaccine, too.
●If your partner has herpes, he or she can reduce the chances of infecting you by taking a medicine called an antiviral.
●If you are at very high risk of catching HIV, you might be able to take a pill every day to reduce the chances that you will get HIV. This is an option only for very few at-risk people. If you are interested in this, talk to your doctor.
For more information on sexually transmitted infections, check out the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm.
At Champlain Medical Urgent Care, we are happy to offer you screening for sexually transmitted infection. Feel free to come in to talk to a provider about the type of screening that is right for you.