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Sexually Transmitted Infections
More than 65 million people in the U.S. live with an incurable sexually transmitted infection (STI). An additional 15 million people become infected with one or more STIs each year, roughly half of whom contract lifelong infections. Yet, STIs are one of the most under-recognized health problems in the country today.
Despite the fact that STIs are extremely widespread, have severe and sometimes deadly consequences, and add billions of dollars to the nation's healthcare costs each year, most people in the United States remain unaware of the risks and consequences of sexually transmitted infections. Many people with STIs do not have symptoms and remain undiagnosed. These "hidden" epidemics are magnified with each new infection that goes unrecognized and untreated.
Did You Know?
Sexually transmitted infections are the most common type of infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control.
The only way to know you are not infected is to get tested.
Common Types of STIs
- Chlamydia: Chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States and may be one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted infections among women today.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. The reported gonorrhea rate in the United States remains the highest of any industrialized country and is roughly 50 times that of Sweden and eight times that of Canada.
- Syphilis: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that progresses in stages. The disease is curable and medical treatment can prevent progression of the disease. However, if left untreated, it can cause cardiovascular and neurological diseases and blindness. Syphilis causes genital sores that increase the likelihood of sexual HIV transmission 2-5 times.
- Herpes: Genital herpes-herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States. As many as one million people in the United States are infected each year. The disease is potentially fatal in newborns and can be particularly severe in people with HIV infection.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that causes genital warts but in some cases infects people without causing noticeable symptoms. Genital warts are extremely common, but can be treated.
- Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B (HBV) virus is a serious viral disease that attacks the liver and can cause extreme illness and even death.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Anyone can become infected with HIV. You cannot tell by appearance if someone has HIV. A blood test is the only way to determine if a person is HIV-positive.
Symptom Check List
You can have an STI and not have any signs or symptoms. If you or a sexual partner exhibits one or more of the symptoms listed below, immediately go to a clinic for an examination:
- Discharge from vagina or penis
- Painful or frequent urination
- Itching and/or burning of vaginal area or opening of penis
- Sores, bumps, blisters or redness in genital area
- Pain or itching around genitals, buttocks or legs
- A painless sore usually on or near the genitals, or possibly other body parts such as mouth, throat, breasts, anus, or fingers
- Rashes, especially on palms of hands and bottoms of feet
STI Prevention Methods
The best protection against acquiring a sexually transmitted infection is to abstain from sex. Other ways to reduce your risk of STI infection include:
- Have sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you.
- Use a latex condom (with a water-based lubricant) correctly each time you have sex.
- Do not use alcohol or drugs if you think you may have sex soon.
Services provided by Department of Preventive Medicine Communicable Disease Services
- HIV screening
- STI screening and treatment
- STI/HIV education for individuals and units/groups
- HIV Case Management
page last modified on: 5/7/2013