They may all fall under the umbrella of “STI,” but not all sexually transmitted infections are the same. From the way you can transmit them to they way you treat them, these are some fast facts about the most common types of STIs.

Chlamydia

  • Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner.
  • With the right treatment, chlamydia can be cured.
  • Because the disease doesn’t always present with clear symptoms, many people who have chlamydia don’t know it.
  • In females, untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and potentially permanent damage to their reproductive organs, or it can cause infertility.

Gonorrhea

  • Symptoms of gonorrhea typically consist of discharge from the vagina or penis along with painful urination. However, some people with gonorrhea will never experience symptoms.
  • Gonorrhea affects more young people than old. Each year, most cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed in people ages 15 - 29.
  • This year, roughly 700,000 people will become infected with the disease.
  • Nearly 70 percent of young people who have gonorrhea will get another STI within one year.

HIV

  • HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and it attacks the body’s immune system.
  • Though the most common way to contract HIV is through sexual contact, HIV can also be transmitted through needle sticks, breast milk, and contact with an infected person’s blood.
  • After many years, and if left untreated, HIV can develop into an AIDS diagnosis. However, HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.
  • Though there is currently no cure for HIV, antiretroviral medication can help suppress the virus and prolong a person’s life.
  • In addition to condoms and other safe sex practices, people at an increased risk of contracting HIV can take PrEP — a prescription drug that can help prevent HIV infection in someone who is HIV-negative.

Genital Herpes

  • In the United States, roughly one in six people ages 14 - 49 years old have genital herpes. That equates to roughly 45 million people.
  • It’s estimated that 80 percent of people with genital herpes don’t know that they have the disease.
  • Genital herpes (caused by HSV-2) is more common in women than in men.
  • Though there are treatment options for genital herpes (like antiretroviral drugs) there is no cure for the disease.

Syphilis

  • Syphilis is highly contagious. Skin-to-skin contact with a syphilis sore is enough to transmit the disease to another person.
  • Syphilis can be treated and cured with a shot of penicillin.
  • There are three stages of an untreated syphilis infection:
    • Stage 1: The disease causes a person to develop small sores on an area of their body. This typically happens in the first few weeks or months after exposure.
    • Stage 2: Four to 10 weeks after the initial infection, a person can start developing a full-body rash.
    • Stage 3: If syphilis is left untreated for years, it can start to affect a person’s internal organs and cause them to shut down.

Hepatitis B & C

  • Hepatitis B & C are most commonly contracted through sexual and blood-to-blood contact.
  • Because the virus can be spread through vaginal fluid and semen, it’s more likely to be found in people who have unprotected sex.
  • According to the CDC, as many as six million people have one type of hepatitis.
  • Despite their similar names, you contract and treat them very differently.

 

CIRCLE CARE Center is a Center of Excellence for the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and has improved access to STI clinical care by offering screening and treatment services apart from primary care. In addition to screenings for hepatitis C, we also offer STI testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, HSV-1 & 2, and hepatitis A & B.