Types of STIs and what symptoms to watch out for

HEPATITIS A, B AND C

Hepatitis affects the liver. Both B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. The symptoms of hepatitis A [HAV] include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever, dark urine, jaundice, liver enlargement and tenderness in the liver. While hepatitis C is treatable, no cures exist for A and B. 

There are vaccines that can help prevent infection and medical treatments that can help lessen the symptoms. HAV is spread via fecal contamination and anal sex. Besides abstaining from sex, the most effective way to protect yourself from Hepatits is to receive two shots of the vaccine over a six-to-twelve-month period. 

 

SYPHILIS

Syphilis spreads through contact with open sores and during sexual activity. If the infection is untreated, it can cause serious brain and nervous system damage, blood infection and even death. Early signs include a small sore around the vagina, penis, mouth or anus and rashes on the body.

The sores can be painless and go away in a few weeks, but the infected person should still get treated. If the infected person is pregnant then the disease will be passed on to the fetus. 

Other symptoms are fever, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, fatigue and swollen lymph glands. Early-diagnosed syphilis can be treated or cured easily with an injection of penicillin or 14 days of antibiotics. Untreated syphilis requires multiple treatments. Patients treated for syphilis should abstain from any sexual contact until the sores are completely healed.

 

HIV & AIDS

HIV and AIDS are transmitted by blood and body fluids. Most HIV infections don’t have any noticeable symptoms. An infected person can be healthy for years, but if HIV leads to AIDS, that’s when symptoms develop and lead to death. Symptoms include fever, rashes and lesions, night sweats and blurred vision. There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments like antiretroviral therapy that allow the patient to live a healthy life.

If exposed to HIV, there is post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) that reduces the chance of  contracting HIV. PEP medication should be sought within 72 hours of exposure. 

 

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is the most common STD and most with it don’t experience symptoms; if they do, they include genital discharge. People with vaginas may experience lower back pain, abdominal pain, nausea, pain during sex or bleeding after sex or between periods. 

It can be cured with antibiotics. The infected person’s partner should test for chlamydia before having sex. 

 

GONORRHEA

Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs in the United States. Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact and can be transmitted to children during childbirth. It is treatable and preventable. Symptoms are unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, pain or difficulty peeing. People with vaginas may experience bleeding while in between their periods. People with penises may experience swelling in the testes.

Gonorrhea can also cause infections in the mouth, throat, eye and anus. It can be cured through antibiotics. 

 

HPV

HPV is the most common STI. HPV doesn’t usually lead to health problems, but in some cases, HPV can lead to genital warts, warts in the throat and cancer of the cervix, anus or throat. HPV can develop from any sort of contact with an infected person. The infection goes away on its own most of the time, but it should be noted that the infection can still be spread easily.

The best way to avoid HPV is to get vaccinated.

 

GENITAL HERPES

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus causes painful blisters around the genitals. Two types of HSV exist. HSV-1 is spread through saliva, causing sores to form around the person’s mouth. HSV-2 is spread through anal, vaginal, and oral sex and causes sores to pop up around the genitals. Genital herpes usually spread through sex and contact with the infected area.

Symptoms of an initial infection are fever, body aches and swollen lymph nodes. People with herpes have a higher chance of transmitting HIV.

No cures exist for herpes, but medication can help relieve the symptoms. Wearing a condom will not fully protect a person from herpes, but it does lessen the chance of infection.

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