April is STD Month. Every year, this month serves as a time to raise awareness, educate, prevent, and treat STDs.
When it comes to STDs, there’s a lot to know. This can be overwhelming. But in the spirit of STD Awareness Month, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about STDs—from what they are to how you can treat and avoid them.
Editor's note: Information provided in this blog is cited directly from the Centers for Disease Control.
What is an STD?
An STD stands for “Sexually Transmitted Disease.” They are also known as STIs, which stands for “Sexually Transmitted Infection.” Although the term STI is considered more accurate, most folks know and recognize the term STD.
STDs can be passed from one person to another through varying types of intimate physical contact and sexual activity. For example, heavy petting or oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Every year, over 20 million new infections occur in the United States. Needless to say, STDs are very common, but you should still do your best to avoid them.
How do I know if I Have an STD?
You should know that not all STDs will give you symptoms. This means, you could have an STD and not know. This is why it is incredibly important to get tested if you are sexually active. Different STDs have different symptoms, and if you think you have an STD, get tested or reach out to your medical provider as soon as possible.
Are STDs treatable?
Most STDs can be treated with medicine, and some can be cured entirely. But not all of them are curable.
What are the different STDs?
There are many different STDs, but some are more common than others. In this blog, we’ll be going through the most common STDs. If you’re interested in learning about other STDs we don’t cover, click here.
1. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
HPV is the most common STD in the United States. Nearly 80 million Americans are diagnosed with HPV. It is a virus, and can sometimes cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. There are many different types of HPV, but there are vaccines to prevent against some of them. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. There is no cure for HPV. To learn more about HPV, click here.
Chlamydia is common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive system, and can make it difficult for women to get pregnant. Chlamydia can be spread through oral, vaginal and anal sex. Most people who have chlamydia do not have symptoms. It is treatable and curable. Learn more about chlamydia here.
Gonorrhea is an STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years, and can be spread through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Most men and women who had gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. But when they do, some common ones are discharge, anal itching, soreness, painful or burning sensation when urinating, and painful bowel movements. It is treatable and curable. Learn more about gonorrhea here.
4. Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is an STD caused by two viruses, and can infect both men and women. The viruses are called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Type 1 causes what is commonly known as oral herpes, and type 2 is what is commonly known as genital herpes. Herpes is not curable, but it can be treated and managed with medicine. Learn more about herpes here.
- Oral herpes: Oral herpes is usually caused by HSV-1 and can result in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. However, most people do not have any symptoms. Most people with oral herpes were infected during childhood or young adulthood from non-sexual contact with saliva. Oral herpes caused by HSV-1 can be spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex. This is why some cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-1.
- Genital herpes: You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- A herpes sore;
- Saliva (if your partner has an oral herpes infection) or genital secretions (if your partner has a genital herpes infection);
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). There are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics, but it does not prevent you from getting it again. Learn more about syphilis here.
HIV and STDS
According to the Center for Disease Control, people who have STDs are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STDs. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for getting an STD can also put you at greater risk for getting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STD may allow HIV to more easily enter your body. Learn more about HIV and STDs here.
How Apicha CHC can Help
We know that getting tested can be a nerve-racking experience, but remember that it is always better to know than not know. Getting tested is a crucial part of prevention.
If you’re interested in learning more about the risks or want to come in for an STD screening, schedule your primary care appointment with Apicha CHC today by clicking here.
Our healthcare providers are specialists in HIV prevention, treatment, and care. If you come for testing and remain for care at our community health center, you will receive consistent treatment from a healthcare provider who can attend to all of your health needs including HIV.
There are three ways we can help:
1. HIV Testing
We provide completely confidential HIV testing services at Apicha CHC. To sign up for our HIV Testing services, click here and select HIV/STD testing from the drop down.
2. We can get you PrEP
If you become part of Apicha CHC's PrEP Program, you will be assigned a medical provider at Apicha CHC who will assess whether PrEP is right for you and will prescribe you Truvada as PrEP.
Our PrEP staff can also help you:
- Enroll in insurance or sign you up for special PrEP cost programs
- Set up your appointments
- Remind you when your pills are running out
- You can easily pick-up your prescription at Apicha CHC's brand new in-house pharmacy or you can use our free delivery service!
You can request an appointment to get started on PrEP here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Access to PrEP/PEP".
3. Become a part of our HIV Clinic
If you know you're HIV-positive and don't currently have a medical provider or aren't happy with the one you do have, feel free to become a part of the Apicha CHC clinic.
You can request an appointment here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Primary Medical Care".