A Sexually Transmitted Disease, also known as an “STD”, is an infection that is transmitted between two or more individuals usually during a sexual act or some other exchange of bodily fluids. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) that more than 50% of all people will contract a Sexually Transmitted Disease in their lifetime.
Once called venereal diseases, STDs are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States today. It is the sharing of blood or other bodily fluids that allows the infection to be transmitted from one person to another. More than 20 STDs have now been identified including the following most commonly transmitted diseases:
HIV / AIDS – HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a viral infection that can eventually lead to AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Once a person has been infected with HIV, this virus attacks the body’s immune system, killing the CD4 Cells (also known as the T-helper cells) which normally help to fight invading organisms and disease. When an infected person’s immune system is effectively destroyed by HIV, he or she develops AIDS.
Syphilis – Syphilis is a Sexually Transmitted Disease that is caused by the bacterium known as Treponema pallidum, that progresses in stages. The first symptom (or stage) of Syphilis, is a painless open sore(s) (or “chancre”). This sore, which contains purulent (or “pus” like) material or discharge, is usually found around or in the vagina (or in the male, on the penis). It can, however, also be found on or in the mouth, the anus (butt hole), or on the hands.
Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea (aka “the Clap”) is a Sexually Transmitted Disease caused by the bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is transmitted through vaginal, penile, anal and oral sexual contact, with or without ejaculation. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 persons in the U.S. are infected with new gonorrhea infections each year (reported and unreported cases). Symptoms of Gonorrhea in men may include: burning upon urination and/or, a white, yellow or greenish color discharge from the penis. Women who are infected with Gonorrhea may experience pain or burning upon urination and/or a vaginal discharge. Some infected women may not have any symptoms. Oftentimes, burning with urination or a vaginal discharge can be confused with other diseases.
Chlamydia – Chlamydia occurs in both men and women and is caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis. Although most of the symptoms of Chlamydia are mild, and may go unnoticed, an abnormal genital discharge and/or burning during urination may be an indication of the disease. In any event, these symptoms should be a cause for concern, and if they are present, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor or other health professional for identification of the cause of the infection.
Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B is a viral disease that attacks the liver, and, according to health experts, is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. The CDC has reported that approximately 30% of people infected with HBV have no symptoms. Hepatitis B can be transmitted to others, especially through sexual or drug-related behavior. It is spread through contact with the infected person’s blood and other bodily fluids including: semen; vaginal secretions; blood; discharge from open sores (“pus”) of the infected person.
Genital Herpes – Genital Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted viral diseases in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 45 million people in the United States (ages 12 and older) have been infected the disease, and as many as 1,000,000 people become infected with Genital Herpes each year. Symptoms of Genital Herpes can include painful blisters or open sores in the genital area. The symptoms of the recurrent painful ulcers, can be treated, but the Genital Herpes infection cannot be cured. Many people with Genital Herpes have no symptoms. This is unfortunate, since the virus can be transmitted unknowingly to others through sexual contact.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and Genital Warts – HPV is not a single virus, but a group of different viruses, many of which can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, the outside area of the vagina, or anus (“butt hole”). Over 100 different strains of the HPV virus have been identified, more than 30 of which can be sexually transmitted, some of which cause genital warts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are about 1 million new cases of genital warts in men and women each year in the United States. A person can be infected with one of the forms of Genital HPV through vaginal, penile, anal or oral sexual contact, with or without ejaculation. HPV infections have been identified by the CDC as one of the most commonly transmitted sexual diseases. HPV can also affect the inside linings of the vagina, cervix or rectum.
Trichomoniasis (or Trichomonas) – Trichomoniasis, also known as Trichomonas, is caused by a microscopic parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. A parasite is an organism that lives either inside or on the outside of the human body (aka its “host”). And, it depends on the host for its survival. Trichomoniasis can affect either men or women, although symptoms of the disease are more common in women. Most men with Trichomoniasis have no symptoms at all, or may confuse the symptoms that are present with another disease. If symptoms exist in a male, they may include: a slight irritation inside the penis; painful urination, and/or mild discharge from the penis In a female, symptoms of Trichomoniasis may include: a yellowish-green frothy vaginal discharge that has a strong foul odor; burning upon urination; and/or pain or irritation in the vaginal area.
Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases, such as the HIV and Syphilis infections, can also be spread by non-sexual contact with bodily fluids. Such infections would include transmission to an unborn child through the mother during pregnancy and delivery, or infections spread from person to person through intravenous drug use (including tattooing or ear piercing procedures) with an unclean (“dirty”) needle.
Bacterial infections and those STDs caused by parasites can be effectively treated with medication and cured.