A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Generally, STIs are spread by exchanging infected bodily fluids such as semen, precum, vaginal fluids, menstrual or other blood during unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Most affect the reproductive system: left untreated some like syphilis can cause death in the latent stage and some like HIV affect the immune system. Some STIs, such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia are caused by bacteria and can be cured while others such as herpes and HIV are viruses and though treatable are listed as incurable.

 

Signs of STIs are most likely seen in the genital area, although many people who have STIs will show no signs or symptoms.  Below you will find information on some common STIs.

 

 

 

Syphilis

 

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Three stages

 

Phase I

Lasts 10 – 90 days

Symptoms include:

Chancre on penis, vagina, mouth, anus

These may go unnoticed as they usually do not hurt or itch. Skin to chancre transmission is possible

 

Phase II

Lasts 2 weeks – 6 months                                                                                               

Symptoms include:

  • Rashes on palms and soles, sometimes body
  • Moist looking welts around genital area
  • Sores between toes, fingers in armpits, mouth
  • Low fever, headaches, hair loss, sore throat

 

Phase III

Lasts 3 – 5 years and is no longer infectious. In the next 10 – 20 years it may affect the heart, brain and other internal organs. It could result in physical and mental crippling and possible death.

 

Chlamydia

 

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Chlamydia causes two distinct STIs:

Tracomatis – attacks mucous membranes

Lymphogranuloma venerium (LGV) - Attacks regional lymph nodes - Bubos

 

Can be contracted through mother to child transmission and infected persons can pass on to other to other parts of the body. Chlamydia can result in serious Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women, causes scarring of fallopian tubes and if untreated can cause death.

 

Symptoms:

80% women show no symptom until PID

Men see earlier ones similar to gonorrhoea - called Nongonococcal urithritis (NGU) or open back

Both partners must be treated

 

Gonorrhea

 

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Male:  Symptoms - 3 – 6 days after infection, dripping discharge from penis. A slight cloudy discharge.  A discharge of pus for weeks/months/years.  A burning feeling when he urinates                                                                                                                                               

Female:  Symptoms - A slight vaginal discharge with burning when she urinates, inflammation of the cervix, painful infection of the pelvic area. In most cases there are no signs. She may not know.

 

 

Herpes

This STI can be transmitted through any contact with the blisters of an infected person and spread to other parts of the body. It can infect baby if in active stage at birth. Women have greater risk of developing cervical cancer

Symptoms:

  • Tingling or burning sensation around the genital 
  • Tiny blisters burst,  discharge pus, blood or watery fluid
  • Open sores may be mildly or severely painful
  • Some cases - fever, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, head/body ache

 

 

Hepatitis B

Virus that exist in blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk. Hepatitis B (HBV) often has no symptoms, therefore most people are not aware that they have the infection.

 

HPV

 

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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to a large group of viruses. Some of these viruses causes warts on the hands or feet. Approximately 30-40 types of HPV cause infections in the genital area, that is, the vulva, vagina, penis, buttocks, scrotum, and anus. Genital HPV is very common and is spread easily through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal or anal sex with someone who has the infection. Condoms and other latex barriers do not totally prevent transmission. Most people with HPV do not know they have it because they do not develop symptoms, but can pass it on

 

Genital warts

 

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This results from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and is spread easily through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Condoms do not totally prevent transmission of genital warts. It is important to treat warts early and get treatment to prevent health problems.

 

Trichomoniasis

This STI can be spread by skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex without a condom. Trichomoniasis is a common cause of vaginal infections. Trichomoniasis can be successfully treated with antibiotics

Symptoms

Foamy, foul-smelling vaginal discharge and itching.

 

 

HIV

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. It is present in blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk. HIV can be spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex without a condom or from mother to child. Many people living with HIV look and feel healthy. If left untreated, HIV can cause serious illness and death.

 

Crabs

These are lice that live in the pubic hair and can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. They can also be spread through infected clothes and bedding. Symptoms may include intense itching and seeing lice or eggs in the hair.