What is Chlamydia
Chlamydia (cla-mid-ee-ah) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It can spread from person to person during sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal) when a person’s mucous membranes come into contact with the vaginal secretions or semen of an infected person. It can be transmitted without complete insertion of a penis into the vagina or anus. It is less likely, although possible, to be transmitted to the throat during oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to newborn during childbirth. Chlamydia infections are treatable and curable with antibiotics.
Why is treating chlamydia important?
Untreated chlamydia can lead to severe reproductive health problems for women, including sterility. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common result of untreated chlamydia infection. In PID, the bacteria move from the vagina up through the cervix and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Blockage and scarring can damage the tubes, causing women who conceive to be more likely to have “tubal pregnancies.”
In men, untreated chlamydial infections can lead to prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland), urethral scarring, infertility, or epididymitis (inflammation of the cord-like structure at the back of the testes).
What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea (gon-or-e-uh) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea. Gonorrhea can be transmitted to both male and female partners during vaginal, anal and oral sex from a partner infected in his or her throat, vagina, urethra or anus. Gonorrheal infections are completely curable with antibiotics.
Whats’ the big deal about gonorrhea?
If you are Hiv+ and have genital inflammation due to gonorrhea, the inflamed tissues contain highly concentrated amounts of the virus. If the gonorrheal infection is in your penis, you can shed 8-10 times more HIV in your semen.
If you are HIV- but have gonorrhea, the disease-fighting cells of your immune system are especially susceptible to HIV if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner. Rectal gonorrhea increases the risk of contracting HIV by ten to twenty times.
In about 1% of people with untreated gonorrhea, the infection can spread beyond the genital area to the bloodstream, skin, heart or joints. This is called Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI). Symptoms include fever, multiple skin lesions, arthritis, infection of the inner lining of the heart, and meningitis. DGI can be treated with antibiotics.
PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), a serious pelvic infection in women, is a more common result of untreated gonorrhea. In PID, the bacteria move from the vagina up through the cervix and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Blockage and scarring can damage the tubes, making a woman who conceives more likely to have a tubal pregnancy. Left untreated, PID can cause infertility. Untreated gonorrhea can also cause chronic menstrual problems, postpartum endometritis, urinary tract infections, miscarriage, and cervical discharge.
Men with untreated gonorrhea can occasionally develop epididymitis, a painful infection of the testicles. Untreated gonorrheal infections can also cause inflammation of the prostate and urethral scarring, sometimes leading to infertility.
What is herpes?
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by two herpes simplex virus (HSV type I and type II). Herpes is transmitted from person to person via direct skin-to-skin contact during oral, anal and vaginal sex. HSV I usually causes fever blisters and cold sores on the mouth, but can also cause sores on the genitals. HSV II usually causes sores on the genitals (vagina, penis, anus) and the skin around those areas. The majority of oral herpes cases are caused by HSV I and the majority of genital herpes cases are caused by HSV II; however, since so many people are now having oral sex, type-I is increasingly appearing in the genitals. HSV is different from other common viral infections because once it is introduced into your system, it lives there forever, often with periodic symptoms or without symptoms at all.
Why be concerned about herpes?
Genital herpes is seldom a severe or dangerous infection by itself, although it can cause psychological distress because of the nature of the sores and the length of time the virus stays in your system.
The open sores of herpes do play a role in the spread of HIV. A person with a herpes sore is three to five times more likely to acquire HIV if exposed to an HIV-positive sex partner. Also, people with HIV and herpes have an increased amount of HIV fluid in their open herpes sores, which increases the risk of transmitting both diseases to a partner during unprotected sex.
Pregnant women who have a first episode of genital herpes near delivery may transmit herpes to their infant, which could be a serious, even deadly, problem. Fortunately, infection of infants is rare among women with recurrent genital herpes.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is the name for inflammation of the liver caused by several different viruses. The viruses are classified by letters of the alphabet – with types A, B, and C being the most common. Each of these viruses can be transmitted in a number of ways, some sexually. Hepatitis B and C viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer, and death. Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver cancer in the world. Chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) is the leading cause for liver transplants.
Why worry about Hepatitis?
HAV usually runs its course without treatment. Once infected, you cannot be re-infected. Both HBV and HCV can attack in acute or chronic forms. The acute forms resemble a bad illness that can last for a few weeks, up to a few months. If the illness turns chronic (long-lasting), both Hepatitis B and C can ultimately lead to liver failure and death.
Important Note: Hepatitis B infection in someone who is HIV+ is more likely to turn into chronic HBV. It is estimated that 5,000 people die each year in the United States due to complications of cirrhosis and liver cancer as a result of HBV.
What are HIV and AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is a group of health problems caused by a virus called HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is transmitted from person to person via exchange of bodily fluids – semen, blood, and vaginal fluids – during anal, vaginal, and possibly oral sex, or when sharing needles during intravenous drug use.
People who test positive for HIV do not necessarily have AIDS. Many people are HIV+ but don’t show symptoms of illness for years, if at all. People who do get AIDS can get very ill and die from infectious diseases and cancers that usually don’t cause problems for other people. There is currently no cure for AIDS.
Why worry about HIV/AIDS?
People with HIV show signs of AIDS when their immune system is seriously damaged. People with AIDS can suffer from what are called opportunistic infections, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (a skin cancer), PCP (a lung infection), CMV (a virus that infects the eyes), and candida (a fungal infection). AIDS-related diseases also include severe weight loss, brain tumors, and a myriad of other health problems.
AIDS shows up differently in every infected person. Some people die soon after getting infected, while others live fairly normal lives for many years after they are diagnosed with AIDS.
There are now treatments available that can slow down the replication of HIV in your body, along with any immune system damage. The treatment is called anti-retroviral therapy. However, there is currently no cure for AIDS.
What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a type of bacteria called T. Pallidum. It can spread from person to person by physical contact during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Syphilis infections are treatable and curable with antibiotics.
Why worry about syphilis?
Untreated syphilis can lead to organ damage, including brain damage, and in some cases death. In addition, syphilis infection makes HIV easier to catch or to give to sex partners. New data show that for people who have HIV, syphilis can dramatically increase their viral load and cause a drop in CD4 counts. This increase resolves with syphilis treatment.
This information can be found at the San Francisco City Clinic website