Sexually Transmitted Infections

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The only way to find out if you have a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD, also called or STI or Sexually Transmitted Infection) is to get tested. 

STIs are very common: there are more than 19 million new cases every year in the United States. Did you know that 1 in 2 sexually active young adults will get an STI by the age of 25, and most will not know it? The good news is that all STIs are treatable and some are even curable. 

Consider these facts:

  • Many STIs have no symptoms. You can't tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them. 
  • By the age of 25, roughly one in two sexually active people will get an STI. 
  • Only about 50 percent of college students use condoms during vaginal sex, even fewer with oral or anal sex.
  • College students under the influence of alcohol are the ones least likely to use adequate protection from STIs

How do I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection?

  • The only 100% way to be sure is to get tested, because many STIs do not show any symptoms. 
  • If you do have symptoms, you may notice unusual discharge, itching, sores, pain during sex, rash, or a fever. 
  • It is possible to get a STI without having vaginal intercourse. Not all STIs are spread in the same way. 

How can I prevent sexually transmitted infections? 

  • Use condoms consistently and correctly. Health Promotion offers FREE male and female condoms!
  • Engage in abstinence for oral, vaginal, and anal sex
  • Get vaccinated against HPV and Hepatitis 
  • Reduce number of sexual partners
  • Get tested after each new partner, and always know your status 

I want to get tested!

  • Health Promotion offers FREE HIV testing on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. 
  • Medical Services can test for a wide range of STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea.  
  • Coconino County Public Health Services (679-7222) offers STI testing and treatment, emergency contraception, and birth control. No one will be denied services if unable to pay. 

Common types of sexually transmitted infections

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

  • Genital warts are very common and may appear as bumps on the outer skin surface.  They may look like the surface of a cauliflower and feel rougher than the surrounding skin.  Other types of HPV have no notable symptoms, other than an abnormal pap smear result.
  • HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Women can be tested for cervical disease with routine pap smears. 
  • Both men and women can get immunized against the most dangerous types of HPV.  Gardisil™ is one of several effective vaccines and is offered by Campus Health.  

Chlamydia

  • Women may experience vaginal discharge.  Men may have some burning with urination.  However, often, there are no symptoms.
  • It can be treated with a a simple course of oral antibiotics. 
  • In women, untreated chlamydia can cause damage to the fallopian tubes and result in infertility.  Prompt treatment helps prevent complications

Herpes

  • Herpes is a viral infection usually affecting the mouth or genitals. 
  • An acute infection starts with an itching or burning sensation, followed by clusters of very painful blisters.  There can be burning with urination.  With the initial outbreak, there can be fever, body aches, and swollen glands.  Some herpes infections cause such mild symptoms that they go unnoticed.
  • Herpes cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with antiviral medications.
  • Herpes can be spread even if someone does not have visible symptoms. 

Gonorrhea

  • Gonorrhea can affect the vagina, cervix, urethra, anus or throat.
  • Women may experience a yellow-green vaginal discharge, abdominal or pelvic pain, irregular bleeding, or painful urination.  Men may have painful urination or penile discharge.  Sometimes, there are no symptoms.
  • Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.
  • Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious infections in the reproductive organs that may require surgical treatment or lead to infertility.  Arthritis and system symptoms can also occur.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • PID is a complication of untreated Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, or other bacterial infections.  The bacteria travel from the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
  • Women may experience pelvic pain and cramping. There may be irregular bleeding or pain with sex. Some women have fever, chills, and vomiting. 
  • Hospitalization and surgery may be needed to cure the infection. 
  • This is a serious infection that can result in loss of fertility. 

HIV

  • There are often no symptoms of HIV infection for many years.  Early symptoms may include swollen glands, body aches, and fatigue, similar to many other viral illnesses.
  • There is no cure for HIV or AIDS.  There are treatments available to control the virus and reduce the rate of associated diseases and complications.
  • HIV is transmitted through contact body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk).  It is spread through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles or syringes with an infected person, or other contact with infected body fluids.
  • Nearly one in five people with HIV don't know they are infected, and can pass the virus on to others without knowing it. Health Promotion offers FREE HIV testing!

Syphilis

  • The first symptom may be a painless open wet sore on the genitals or mouth, which will heal without treatment.  If syphilis is untreated, rashes, fever, sore throat, fatigue,or neurological symptoms may occur.
  • In the early stages, antibiotic treatment is effective.   Damage caused by later stages may not be reversible.  Severe untreated syphilis can be fatal.
  • Syphilis can be transmitted to the unborn child.

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

  • Lice are tiny insects that can attach themselves to skin and hair.  They are easily transmitted through sexual contact or sharing beds, clothing, or infected furniture.
  • Intense itching is usually the first symptom.   Lice or eggs may be visible in the pubic area.
  • Topical medicines (over the counter and by prescription) are recommended.  Bed linens, clothes, and towels need to be thoroughly washed and your residence cleaned and vacuumed.
  • Thorough cleaning of your living space and linens should reduce the chance of reinfection.  You should abstain from sexual conduct until all treatments have been completed.

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