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. Many STDs cause infertility, making it impossible ever to have children. A majority of teenagers who have sex are infected with an STD.[1]


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) within 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 precancerous.

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, jaundice, 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. There are three different sub-types of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis that cause lymphogranuloma venereum .[2] Lymphogranuloma venereum is one of the maladies associated with gay bowel syndrome.[3]

Treponema pallidum (syphillis)

This organism causes syphilis, a multisystem disease.

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

The only completely effective means of preventing the transmission of STDs is abstinence from sex until marriage and fidelity thereafter.

Other Methods of contraception are less effective protection against STDs (including HIV), but can be completely ineffective against some STDs (such as pubic lice). When improperly used, or if damaged, they are completely ineffective.

Vaccines are not widely available for STDs. An HPV vaccine has recently been released for protection against certain, but not all, strains of HPV, though the long term efficacy of this controversial vaccine is disputed.

People who have been sexually active before marriage can transmit their sexual diseases to their partner after marriage, therefore failure to use proper protection with an unfaithful spouse can still lead to infection. Additionally many STDs can be transmitted to unborn children through the pregnant mother.

Treatment

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

References

  1. 4 out of 10 teenagers are sexually active; over half of this 40% (25% of all teenagers) have an STD.[1]
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000634.htm
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000634.htm