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SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDs)
What is a sexually transmitted disease?
STDs are infections that can be transmitted through
sexual contact with an infected individual. These are
also termed sexually transmitted infections or STIs.
STDs can be transmitted during vaginal or other
types of sexual intercourse including oral and anal sex.
Can sexually transmitted diseases be passed through saliva?
The germs that cause STDs hide in semen, blood, vaginal secretions, and sometimes saliva. Most of the organisms are spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but some, such as those that cause genital herpes and genital warts, may be spread through skin contact.
Do sexually transmitted diseases go away?
Bacterial STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, are relatively easy to cure with antibiotics if detected and treated early. Genital herpes, genital warts, Hepatitis B and HIV are viral infections that cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated and managed.
Can a STD kill you?
Having an STD may weaken the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to other infections. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a complication of gonorrhea and chlamydia that can leave women unable to have children. It can even kill you.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
What is hepatitis C disease?
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years.
How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with Hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other injection drug paraphernalia. While uncommon, poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in healthcare settings. While rare, sexual transmission of Hepatitis C is possible. Having a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, sex with multiple partners, or rough sex appears to increase a person’s risk for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can also be spread when getting tattoos and body piercings in unlicensed facilities, informal settings, or with non-sterile instruments. Also, approximately 6% of infants born to infected mothers will get Hepatitis C. Still, some people don’t know how or when they got infected.
How would you know if you have Hepatitis C?
The only way to know if you have Hepatitis C is to get tested. Doctors use a blood test, called a Hepatitis C Antibody Test, which looks for antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected. Antibodies remain in the bloodstream, even if the person clears the virus. A positive or reactive Hepatitis C Antibody Test means that a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time. However, a positive antibody test does not necessarily mean a person still has Hepatitis C. An additional test called a RNA test is needed to determine if a person is currently infected with Hepatitis C.
Can Hepatitis C be treated?
Yes. However, treatment depends on many different factors, so it is important to see a doctor experienced in treating Hepatitis C. There are several medications available to treat chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C treatments have gotten much better in recent years. Current treatments usually involve just 8-12 weeks of oral therapy (pills) and cure over 90% of people with few side effects. For a complete list of currently approved FDA treatments for hepatitis C, please visit http://www.hepatitisc.uw.edu/page/treatment/drugs.