STD's and Testing

Why should I get tested?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are very common. Every year there are more than 19 million new cases of STDs in the U.S. By age 25, an estimated one in two sexually active young people will get one. If you think it can’t happen to you … think again. Since STDs often show no symptoms, many of those who are infected don’t know it. The only way to “know for sure” if you or a partner has an STD is to get tested. The good news is that STDs are treatable, and many are curable. Putting off getting care for and STD can have lasting health effects for both women and men. Left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility (that is, make you unable to have children), an increased risk of cancer and even death. And get this having an STD increases your risk of getting HIV or other STDs if you have sex with an infected partner If you do notice any changes or irritations (like sores) in your genital area, as well as any unusual discharge or discomfort when urinating you should see a health care provider as these may be signs of an STD. Not all genital infections are the result of an STD. Sometimes people get symptoms that seem very much like those of STDs, even though they have never had sex. For women, yeast infections and other conditions can easily be confused with an STD. Guys can worry about bumps on the penis that turn out to be pimples or hair follicles. That’s why it’s important to see a health care provider if you have any concerns and ask what STDs you should be tested for. Before you start a new sexual relationship, it’s a good idea to talk with your partner about getting tested for STDs. After all, you are not just having sex with your partner but with everyone they’ve had sex with…and everyone they’ve had sex with…and well, you get the point. Some STDs are so common that the CDC recommends routine screening.

Wouldn’t I know if I or my partner had an STD?

The only way to know whether you or anyone else has an STD is to get tested. You can’t tell if someone has an STD by the way he or she “looks.” STDs are very common. It just takes one sexual experience to get an STD. Even more to the point: STDs, including HIV, often have NO symptoms. That’s right so many people who have one don’t even know it! The only way to know is to Get Yourself –and Your Partner–Tested (GYT). Knowing your (and your partner’s) status helps you protect each other. To maximize your protection against STDs and pregnancy use a condom each and every time (no excuses) you have sex (including oral sex).

Which STDs should I get tested for?

There is no single test for every STD – tests are specific to each infection. And some infections can be found using different kinds of tests. You and your health care provider will decide which STD tests make the most sense for you. But most importantly you need to speak up and ask to get tested. You can’t assume that you have been tested for STDs if you have blood taken, give a urine sample or (for women) have a pelvic exam or pap smear. You have to specifically ask to be tested. And, be honest with your healthcare provider. They are there to help you not to judge you. They need to know about your sexual history – so be open and honest. Your provider/doctor will be helping you make important decisions about test(s) you may need. Certain STDs are so common, your health care provider may suggest routine screening.

What’s involved in testing?

They type of test – or tests – you need depends on the STD. Remember, there is no single test that can screen for all STDs. Your test may include:

Physical exam – your health care provider may look at your genital and/or your anus for any signs of an infection, such as a rash, discharge, sores, or warts. For women, this exam can be similar to a pelvic exam.

Urine sample – you may be asked to pee into a cup at your clinic or health care provider’s office.

Discharge, tissue, cell or oral fluid sample – your provider will use a swab to collect samples that will be looked at under a microscope.

Blood sample – your provider may take a blood sample, either with a needle or by pricking the skin to draw drops of blood.

Sometimes your diagnosis can be made based on your symptoms or a physical exam. Treatment could be prescribed right away. Other times, your health care provider may need to send a sample away to a lab. In that case, the results may not be available for several days. Always follow up! If you don’t go back to get your results, it’s as good as not having been tested. And, don’t assume your results are negative if you don’t hear back – find out for sure.
I got my results…now what?

When you get your test results, your health care provider will counsel you about your treatment options. Remember all STDs, including HIV, are treatable, and some others like chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable. If your results are positive, it is important that you follow the treatment outlined by your health provider—completely. That means even if you are feeling better you should continue your treatment as directed by your health care provider. If you have an STD it is also important to let anyone you have been sexually active with since your last test know so they can get tested and treated if necessary. This may be a difficult conversation but it’s very important. Everyone gets an STD from someone and part of stopping the spread is talking with your partners.

Low Down on STDs

Chlamydia
Trichomoniasis (“Trich”)
Gonorrhea
Human papillomavirus (HPV or genital warts)
What is it
A bacterial infection of the genital area. A parasitic infection of the genital area. A bacterial infection of the genital area. A viral infection with more than 100 different types, over 40 of which can infect the genitals.
How many get it
About 3 million new cases each year. The highest rates are among adolescent women. As many as 5 million new cases each year. About 650,000 new cases a year. The highest rates are among women aged 15 to 19 and men aged 20 to 24. An estimated 6.2 million new cases each year. At least 20 million people already have it.
Symptoms
There are no symptoms in most women and many men who have it. Women may experience abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding (not your period), and pain during urination. Men develop discharge or pain during urination within one to three weeks of having sex with an infected partner. Often there are no symptoms,. Some women may notice a frothy, smelly, yellowish-green vaginal discharge, and/or genital area discomfort, usually within 4 days to one month after exposure to the parasite. Men may notice a discharge from the penis. Most people infected have no symptoms. For those who do, it can cause a burning sensation while urinating, green or yellowish vaginal or penile discharge, and for women, abnormal vaginal bleeding and/or pelvic pain. Symptoms can appear within 2 to 10 days after infection. Most people infected have no symptoms. But some HPV types can cause genital warts– small bumps in and around the genitals (vagina, vulva, penis, testicles, and anus, etc.) If they do occur, warts may appear within weeks or months of infection.
How it’s spread
Through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. Through unprotected vaginal intercourse. Through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Most commonly through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex,)but can also be passed on during skin-to-skin contact.
Treatment
Oral antibiotics cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth, and both partners need to abstain from unprotected intercourse until the infection is gone. Antibiotics can cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth, and both partners need to abstain from unprotected intercourse until the infection is gone. Oral antibiotics can cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth, and both partners need to abstain from unprotected intercourse until the infection is gone. There is no cure for the virus itself (HPV), but warts can be treated through topical medicines or methods to remove or freeze them. Even with such treatments, the virus may still be present and can cause recurrences It is not known how long a person remains contagious after warts are treated.
Possible conse- quences
Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV . In women, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Babies born to infected women can develop eye or lung infections, and infected men uncommonly develop pain and swelling in the testicle. Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. In women, trich can cause complications during pregnancy. Also, it’s common for this infection to happen again and again. Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. In women, the infection can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Genital warts will not turn into cancer over time, even if they are not treated. In women, persistent infection with certain HPV types can cause cervical cancer over time; however, the majority of women with HPV infections will not develop cervical cancer, especially if they get routine Pap tests and follow up as recommended. The HPV types that can cause genital warts are different from the types that can cause cervical cancer.
Genital
Herpes
Syphilis
Hepatitis B
Virus (HBV)
HIV
What is it
A viral infection of the genital area; the virus can also infect the area around the mouth. An infection caused by bacteria that can spread throughout the body. A viral infection affecting the liver – can be acute or chronic. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS.
How many get it
About 1 million new infections each year. An estimated 45 million people are infected in the United States. About 37,000 new cases each year. About 46,000 new cases a year – some acquired through sexual transmission. Up to 1.2 million people are already infected with Hepatitis B. Most are the result of perinatal transmission as infants, NOT unprotected sexual activity. This is very inaccurate. About 48,000 people in the United States were infected through sexual transmission of HIV in 2006. An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV.
Symptoms
Most people have no symptoms. Herpes 1 usually causes cold sores and fever blisters on the mouth ; Herpes 2 is usually the cause of genital sores or blisters. Both viruses can cause sores in either areas. An outbreak can start as red bumps and then turn into painful blisters or sores. During the first outbreak , it can also lead to flu-like symptoms: fever, headaches, and swollen glands. Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of infection. The viruses stay in the body forever and may cause recurrent outbreaks. In the first phase, a single sore (chancre) may appear on the genitals or mouth, as early as 2 weeks but as long as 3 months after exposure.This chancre can be present for one to five weeks. Often, however, there are no noticeable symptoms. In the second stage, up to 6 months after the first sore has disappeared, a variety of symptoms can appear, including a rash (often on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, but also on other body parts). Many people don’t have any symptoms, especially adults with chronic infection. Others may experience tiredness, aches, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, darkening of urine, or tenderness in the stomach, usually within one to 6 months of exposure. Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (called jaundice) can occur later. The only way to know for sure if someone is infected with HIV is to be tested. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more. However, there are general stages of HIV infection.

Infection: The earliest stage is right after infection. HIV can infect cells and copy itself before the immune system has started to respond. An infected person may feel flu-like symptoms during this time.

Response: The next stage is when the body responds to the virus. The body is trying to fight the virus by making antibodies against it. This is called seroconversion, or going from HIV negative to HIV positive.

No symptoms: An infected person may enter a stage in which there are no symptoms. This is called asymptomatic infection. The person still has HIV and it may be causing undetected damage.

Symptoms: Symptomatic HIV infection is when symptoms develop, such as certain infections, including PCP. AIDS: AIDS is diagnosed when one has a variety of symptoms, infections, and specific test results.

How it’s spread
Contacts through vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. Warning: Many people who are infected with the virus do not have any symptoms and do not know they are infected, but they can still spread the infections to others. Condom use can reduce this risk. Through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex – and also through kissing if there is a lesion on the mouth. Through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex, but also through childbirth, as well as sharing contaminated needles or any behavior in which a person’s mucus membranes are exposed to an infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva. The chance of getting it through kissing is low. Through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex with someone who has HIV; through sharing contaminated needles or drug works; and during pregnancy or breast- feeding with an HIV-positive mother. Kissing is considered a very low-risk activity for the transmission of HIV.
Treatment
There is no cure, but medications can help reduce the pain and itching as well as the frequency of recurrent outbreaks. Daily medication can also reduce the likelihood of spreading the infections to sex partners. Antibiotic treatment can cure the disease if it’s caught early, but medication can’t undo damage already done. Both partners must be treated at the same time. Most cases clear up within one to two months without treatment, during which time you should not drink alcohol until liver function returns to normal.

Illness can last up to 6 months and symptoms can be mild to severe. Most often treated with rest, adequate nutrition and fluids. Follow your doctors advice about how to care for your liver.

There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Antiretroviral treatment can slow the progression of HIV infection and delay the onset of AIDS. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve a person’s chances of living a longer, healthier life.
Possible conse- quences
Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. Recurrent sores –the virus lives in the body forever and can keep coming back. Passing herpes from mother to newborn is rare; however, an infant who gets herpes can become very ill, so some precautions are advisable. Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. Untreated, the symptoms will disappear, but the infection stays in the body and can progress into the third stage causing damage to the brain, heart, and nervous system, and even death. Syphilis in women can seriously harm a developing fetus during pregnancy. Some people remain chronically infected and are contagious for the rest of their lives. A three-dose vaccine is now available to prevent the disease from occurring.

Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. Chronic, persistent inflammation of the liver and later cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. If you are pregnant, your baby must be immunized at birth. NOTE: All babies are immunized at birth. If infected, your baby must receive extra immunizations at birth.

Increased risk for infection of other STDs. HIV can weaken the body’s ability to fight disease, making an HIV-infected person more vulnerable to certain other infections, such as pneumonia.

Info is from: http://www.itsyoursexlife.com