Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. Some STIs can also be contracted by using IV drug needles after their use by an infected person, as well as through any incident involving the contact of a wound with contaminated blood or through childbirth or breastfeeding.
Cause: Chlamydia trachomatis- bacteria (the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US)
Spread: Chlamydia is spread via unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Signs and Symptoms: a white/gray, sometimes yellow liquid discharge (see picture of infected cervix), and inflammation causing pain in the pelvic region and sometimes burning during urination.
Pregnancy: chlamydia can be transmitted to the eyes of the
newborns when they pass through an infected vaginal canal.
Cause: Neisseria Gonorrhea bacteria, often co-infects with Chlamydia trachomatis.
Spread: Gonorrhea is spread via unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex Signs and symptoms: similar to chlamydia
infections: a white/gray, sometimes yellow liquid discharge (seepicture), and inflammation causing pain in the pelvic region and sometimes burning during urination.
In pregnancy: Gonorrhea has been linked to miscarriages, premature birth and low birth weight, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus, and infection of the fluid that surrounds the baby during pregnancy.
Treatment: because co-infection with chlamydia is common, treatment is combined.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: is a consequences of untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.
The inflammatory response triggered by the above infections can cause scars and adhesions to form in the female reproductive organs and lead to infertility.
Cause: Human Papilloma Virus
Spread: HPV is spread via unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex Signs and Symptoms: In most cases, HPV goes away on its own. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer of the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis or anus.
Screening: The US Preventative Screening Task Force recommends screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years every 3 years. Tests for HPV DNA can be done with Pap smears.
Protection: Gardasil is a vaccine used to protect against HPV. It is given in 3 doses from the ages of 13 to 26.
Cause: Human Immunodeficiency Virus Spread: via unprotected sexual intercourse (including anal and oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needle (IV drug use) and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Saliva and tears do not transmit HIV.
Signs and Symptoms: early: Influenza like illness, most common signs: fever, large tender lymph nodes, throat inflammation, a rash, headache, and/or sores of the mouth and genitals.
AIDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: As the HIV virus interferes more and more with the immune system, the host become more likely to get opportunistic infections and tumors that do not usually affect people who have working immune systems. The late symptoms of HIV infection are referred to as AIDS.
HEPATITIS B & C
Cause: Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. In the case of STDs, 2 unrelated viruses cause Hepatitis B & C.
Spread: Hepatitis B & C viruses are transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood. These include unprotected sexual intercourse, needle sharing, tainted transfusions and unsafe unsanitary use of medical instruments such as unsanitary tattooing.
Signs and Symptoms: Acute infection with a hepatitis virus can be asymptomatic or have unspecific signs and symptoms of ill-health, however as the infections persist, jaundice can develop as well as signs of liver failure such as dark urine, bleeding and enlargement of the spleen.
Long-term effects of viral hepatitis: Liver Cancer and cirrhosis are amongst the most significant potential complications of chronic viral hepatitis.
Protection: Vaccines for the prevention of hepatitis B exist. They have been routinely recommended for infants in the US since 1991. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Cause: Herpes Virus
Spread: Herpes can be acquired by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection.
Signs and Symptoms: Tiny, hard, inflamed vesicles that may itch and are painfully sensitive to touch are characteristic of herpetic infections. In time, these fluid-filled blisters form a cluster on the labial (lip) tissue. All the tiny vesicles break open and merge to create one big, open, weeping ulcer.
In pregnancy: like chlamydia, herpes can be transmitted to babies during the
birthing process. When a baby is infected with herpes it results in an infection
called neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes can be a serious illness, and can even
put a baby's life at risk. Mothers with active genital herpes lesions are strongly
recommended to deliver via c-section.
Cause: The spirochete Treponema pallidum Signs and Symptoms: primary infections are characterized by painless ulcers called chancres. Over time, it can spread throughout the body and cause systemic manifestations, most common being a rash and multiple chancres, however cardiac and nervous systems can also be affected.
Spread: Acquired by direct sexual contact with the infectious lesions of another person
Pregnancy: Can cause many fetal malformations and affect the cardiac and nervous systems