Sexually Transmitted Disease

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are illnesses transmitted by sexual contact. STDs comprise a large and diverse set of disease entities which include viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and arthropods. Many of these diseases can cause great harm before symptoms are detected.

List of STDs and their Signs and Symptoms

This list is not complete, and many of these disease agents can be transmitted by non-sexual means. Because there are so many different infections, symptoms can vary greatly. Your doctor can give you a great deal of information and should be consulted early to prevent permanent health problems.

Viruses

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

In the early stages, HIV can cause fevers, rashes, joint pains, and other non-specific symptoms. These usually occur within weeks after exposure. If untreated, HIV infection usually leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) withing eight to ten years. The symptoms of AIDS can be anything, but common presentations include weight loss, night sweats, unusual skin lesions, and diarrhea.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV 1 and 2)

HSV can appear on either the lips or the genitalia. It usually presents as a painful, bumpy rash, sometimes with fever.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV often presents as anogenital warts, or as an abnormality on a pap smear. These lesions can be pre-cancerous.

Hepatitis B and C Viruses (HBV, HCV)

These are often asymptomatic, but over time can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. If any symptoms are present, the illness can look like any hepatitis, that is, jaudice, change in urine or stool color, abdominal swelling, and fatigue.

Bacteria

Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea, "the clap")

In males, this presents as a foul penile discharge. Women may have a vaginal discharge, or no symptoms at all.

Chlamydia trachomatis (chlamydia)

This presents similarly to gonorrhea, but is often asymptomatic, and is commonly without the patient knowing they are ill.

Protozoa

Trichamonas vaginalis ("trich")

In females, this usually presents as a foul vaginal discharge, but males are usually asymptomatic. Even though males are asymptomatic, partners of infected females must be treated.

Arthropods

Pubic lice ("crabs")

This presents as itching in the groin, and often small parasites are easily visible.

Scabies

This often presents as itching, with rash being more prominent between the fingers and toes.

Prevention

STDs are easily prevented. Avoidance of sexual contact (abstinence) is the most effective prevention. However, it is not a guarantee, as herpes and scabies, for instance, can be passed by simple, non-sexual contact.

Latex condoms also are the second most effective method of prevention, but may also be subject to failure.

Vaccines are not widely available for STDs. A vaccine has recently been released for protection against certain, but not all, strains of HPV.

It is important to note that personal abstinence until marriage is NOT a guarantee against contracting these illnesses, as it is often the case that one partner in a marriage may not be a virgin and may have an STD which he can then transmit to the other partner.

Treatment

Many STDs are curable; many are not. For further information, please consult a physician.