Several Common STDs Questions and Answers

Common STDs Questions and Answers

We provide access to up to date and accurate information on STDs, written and reviewed by healthcare professionals in the world.

An Overview Of Chlamydia


Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and is the most commonly reported bacterial STD infection among sexually active people.

The CDC estimates that there are just over 2.8 million chlamydia cases reported each year. Chlamydia is easily spread because it is often asymptomatic (or shows no signs or symptoms).

Although Chlamydia is cured with simple antibiotics, left untreated, it can cause a number of complications for both men and women.

Although using condoms can greatly reduce transmission of the disease, the only way to prevent Chlamydia 100% of the time is through abstinence (no sexual contact).

Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic pelvic inflammatory disease in females and can rarely lead to infertility in men.

Chlamydia In The US Population

Chlamydia cases in the US make up roughly 450 infections per every 100,000 individuals. Chlamydia has been on a steady rise in the US and today it ranks as the most prevalent disease, infecting females at a higher rate than males.

The CDC reports chlamydia cases were highest amongst black men and women when divided by ethnicity and teens when divided by age.

How Chlamydia Spreads

Chlamydia is transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex. The disease does not require ejaculation to spread.

Using condoms significantly reduces your risk of contracting chlamydia but if you have any concerns both you and your partner(s) should get tested.

Chlamydia’s primary mechanism for infection is by spreading through infected secretions and fluids (vaginal, semen, pre semen) into sensitive mucous membranes like the vagina, anus, mouth, eyes and penis.

Chlamydia infections can be passed through shared sex toys which is why proper sex toy sanitation steps are always necessary for your sexual well being.

Am I At Risk For Chlamydia?

Any sexually active person is at risk for chlamydia since it is a highly common and contagious sexually transmitted disease in the population.

If you engage in unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex, you are at risk for contracting chlamydia.

Some individuals have a higher risk of coming in contact with Chlamydia such as sexually active teenagers as well as men who have sex with other men.

Generally speaking, if you are sexually active (particularly female) with multiple partners, you should at a bare minimum get tested once a year but more specifically after every time you have unprotected sex with a new partner.

If you are not in monogamous sexual relationships, proper condom usage is necessary to prevent the spread of chlamydia.

Chlamydia And Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant should pay special concern to avoiding contact with sexually transmitted infections, especially Chlamydia.

An untreated chlamydia infection in a pregnant woman presents a multitude of threats to both herself and the baby such as causing a premature birth, or causing eye and ear infections in the unborn child.

Standard prenatal doctor’s visits will include a STD screening to check for the presence of chlamydia and other infections.

Can Chlamydia Be Cured?

Yes, chlamydia can be cured through a dosage of Over The Counter (OTC) antibiotics that your doctor or healthcare professional will be able to prescribe for you.

Ensuring that you follow the dosage instructions will allow your body to quickly rid itself of the infection.

How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed?

Chlamydia can be diagnosed through a variety of methods, depending on your healthcare provider and where you get the test done.

Some physicians may require a swab of the cervix (females) or from the urethra (males). The most common chlamydia test is called the NAAT or NAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test).

Chlamydia Prevention

The only way to 100% prevent yourself from getting a chlamydia infection is by abstaining from all sexual activity (oral, vaginal, anal).

Proper usage of condoms will greatly help to reduce the risk of chlamydia transmission but it does not completely mitigate the risk entirely as the infection can still pass through sensitive skin surrounding the genitals.

The History Of Chlamydia

Chlamydia trachomatis was originally discovered in Berlin, Germany by scientist Stanislaus von Prowazek in 1907.

The name derives from chlamys and trachomatis (Greek) which translate to ‘cloaked’ and ‘rough’. Although primarily known for infecting humans, the disease can also be found in other mammals such as cats, dogs and some birds.

An Overview Of HSV-1 (Oral Herpes)


HSV-1 (oral herpes) is one of two herpes viruses that is often the cause of cold sores. Cold sores can be painful and last for several days, although there are some treatments that can lessen the duration of an oral herpes outbreak. Oral herpes is the result of a herpes simplex infection.

Although HSV-1 is often associated with oral herpes, it can sometimes result in outbreaks on other parts of the body including the genitals. It’s important that you determine whether you are infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.

HSV-1 In The US Population

Herpes Simplex I is highly prevalent in the US population. The infection can be passed from one individual to another in a variety of ways and many Americans don’t even know they are infected with the virus.

How HSV-1 Spreads

Oral herpes is spread through skin to skin contact and transmission occurs when infected tissue or cells passes from one individual to the next.

Fever sores or cold blisters are examples of HSV-1 eruptions and are highly contagious. Even if an individual who has herpes simplex I is not experiencing an active outbreak, they can still pass the disease.

Am I At Risk For Oral Herpes?

It is estimated by the CDC that roughly 1 in 6 teenagers and adults in the United States is infected with Herpes Simplex I.

HSV-1 is a highly contagious infection and if you are sexually active you are at risk to contract HSV-1.

Genital herpes is primarily caused by HSV-2 but a rise in HSV-1 infections on the genitals has been documented by researchers.

HSV-1 And Pregnancy

Pregnant women with either HSV-1 or HSV-2 have a higher rate of premature births, retarded fetal growth and other birth defects that occur in their children.

Herpes simplex I and II can pass from mother to child during childbirth and the child will have the infection for life.

Both viruses can also pass to a newborn infant after childbirth through kissing an individual with an active cold sore. In rare cases, neonatal herpes can be a life threatening case when the herpes virus infects the amniotic sac.

Can HSV-1 Be Cured?

Herpes sipmlex I has no known cure at this moment. Viral infections can lay dormant for years without having visible effects or outbreaks.

Herpes infections can be managed through a variety of medications such as valtrex, acyclovir, zovirax and Xerese.

How Is Oral Herpes Diagnosed?

A variety of tests exist for detecting the presence of herpes simplex I including the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgM and Type Specific IgG, direct fluorescent antibody, and culture typing.

HSV-1 Prevention

Individuals who are infected with HSV-1 should take special precautions to avoid transmitting the infection such as never engaging in oral sex while having an active outbreak.

Properly using a latex condom reduces the risk of transmission between partners but natural skinned condoms do not protect against the herpes virus.

Monogamous relationships reduce the risk of HSV-1 transmission as well as reducing the number of sexual partners you have.

The History Of Oral Herpes

Herpes is the one of the oldest sexually transmitted diseases on recor. It was first written about by the Greeks (460BCE).

The word ‘herpes’ itself was taken from the Greek word ‘herpein’ which means to crawl or creep, a reference to how herpes infections spread throughout the body.

Since then, herpes has popped up in a variety places throughout history, infecting hollywood actors, politicans and normal citizens alike.

An Overview Of HSV-2 (Genital Herpes)


Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by one of two herpex simplex viruses (herpes simplex I or herpes simplex II).

Traditionally, the term ‘genital herpes’ has been thought to be synonymous with HSV-2 (herpes simplex II), however doctors have realized that more and more cases of herpes outbreaks on the genitals are being caused by HSV-1.

Genital herpes often goes unnoticed as many individuals carrying the disease go asymptomatic for years.

Genital Herpes In The US Population

Genital herpes, like oral herpes, is a common STD in the United States with roughly 20% of the population between 14-50 years of age carrying it.

Recorded cases of genital herpes infections have been on the rise since the 90’s with a peak of 371,000 cases in 2006 and an estimated 300,000 visits tallied in 2014.

How HSV-2 Spreads

Genital herpes spreads through anal, oral and vaginal sex. The infection is spread through cells traveling in seminal fluids, vaginal liquids and other bodily secretions.

Herpes is most contagious with an open sore however the disease can still be passed even with no visible signs or sores.

Am I At Risk For Genital Herpes?

If you are sexually active you are at risk for genital herpes. To completely avoid ever contracting HSV-2 you would need to abstain from all oral, vaginal and anal sex.

You can reduce your risk of getting genital herpes by having a long term monogamous relationship where both partners have tested negative for the disease.

If you are sexually active, proper usage of latex condoms is necessary for reducing your risk of infection of not only genital herpes but a variety of infections as well.

HSV-2 And Pregnancy

Pregnant females that know they have HSV-2 should make that known to their healthcare provider during the first prenatal visit.

Your doctor should run a full blood panel that will pick up the infection but be sure to bring it up as soon as possible. Genital herpes poses a number of health risks to a pregnant mother and her baby including premature births and miscarriages.

Often mothers may be prescribed low dosage antiviral medications in the later stages of the pregnancy to reduce the risk of active infection during childbirth.

A child passing through the birth canal of a mother with genital herpes can become infected with the virus.

Can HSV-2 Be Cured?

Currently there is no known cure for either genital herpes or oral herpes. Once the virus has entered your body it will remain there for life.

The severity and frequency of outbreaks differs from individual to individual and many herpes sufferers are able to completely control outbreaks through antiral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed?

Genital herpes often goes undiagnosed for many individuals because the commonly known symptoms such as open sores and leisons doesn’t happen for all those infected with the disease.

Type specific labratory testing is necessary to identify the antibodies created in response to a herpes simplex type I or type II infection.

Those with open sores might have a cell culture or PCR done to determine if a genital ulcer is infected.

The most common blood panel for herpes HSV-2 is the Elisa test. Due to the fact that IgM tests are not type-specific, they are not useful in the identification of HSV-1 or HSV-2.

HSV-2 Prevention

To completely prevent genital herpes one must abstain from all forms of sex. To reduce your risk of getting genital herpes, never accept oral sex from a partner with cold sores and always use latex condoms and/or dental dams before sex or oral sex.

The History Of Genital Herpes

Both genital and oral herpes have been around for thousands of years. The two herpes simplex viruses weren’t treated until antiviral medications began being explored in the early 1960’s.

By the 1970’s an entire industry was borne out of treating viral infections and many new medications began to hit the markets such as the drug 9-(2-hydroxyethoxymetyl) guanine or acyclovir.

An Overview Of Syphilis


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Although usually transmitted during sexual activities, the infection can also be passed during drug use by sharing intravenous needles.

Syphilis In The US Population

In 2015 the CDC reported roughly 75,000 new infections of syhilis across the United States, in comparison to almost 400,000 reports of gonorrhea.

Syphilis most often affects gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men. Almost 80% of syphilis infections from 2015 fell into those three categories.

How Syphilis Spreads

Syphilis is spread through contact with a syphilis sore, which can occur during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be spread from mother to child during birth. It is not always obvious if a person has a syphilis sore.

Condoms greatly reduce the risk of spreading infection, but the only 100% sure way to prevent syphilis is to not have sex. A person can be infected with syphilis even if they have been previously treated.

Am I At Risk For Syphilis?

Any individual engaged in unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex. Contracting syphilis from a single encounter can occur from 3-10% of the time.

Pregnant women should be tested for syphilis (and other STDs) on their first doctors visit. Individuals with syphilis are at a higher risk for contracting HIV.

Syphilis And Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant and have a syphilis infection put their baby at risk for contracting the infection as well. Syphilictic babies are often born premature and under weight, or in worst cases, stillborn.

Expecting mothers should get at least one full STD panel during their pregnancies. Any positive test results should be immediately treated.

Can Syphilis Be Cured?

Syphilis can be easily cured with over the counter prescription medication. The CDC notes that even though treatment can be easily prescribed, if syphilis infections aren’t caught and treated early they could leave lasting damage.

If you’ve been treated for syphilis it doesn’t exclude you from recontracting the disease at a later date.

How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will require a blood panel to test for the presence of syphilis. An initial screening could use a Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) or a Rapid Immunochromatographic Test.

Usually positive results are confirmed by a secondary test such as an Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) Test or a Treponema Pallidum Particle Agglutination Assay (TPPA).

These tests look for the presence of antibodies created by the body during active syphilis infections.

Penicillin is the mot common antibiotic prescribed for a syphilis infection. Alternate medications include doxycycline, tetracycline, ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

Syphilis Prevention

Properly using condoms is the most affective way for sexually active individuals to protect from syphilis infections.

Monogamous relationships with partners who have both tested negative for syphilis can have unprotected sex without getting the infection.

Even though condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases most of the time, they still do fail in a small percentage of cases.

The History Of Syphilis

Syphilis has an unknown origin, despite many scholars and scientists studying the disease for hundreds of years. The first recorded outbreak of syphilis occured in 1494 in Naples, Italy.

It was originally known as a disease of French origin because it came with the French troop when they passed through the city.

Numerous historical figures have been speculated to have had the infection such as Franz Schubert, Arthur Schopenhauer, and E. Manet.

An Overview Of Gonorrhea


Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It has many nicknames such as “the drip” or “the clap”.

More than half a million cases are reported in the United States each year, though the actual number of cases is likely much higher, since most women and men with gonorrhea have no symptoms.

Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria (neisseria gonorrhoeae) and can infect the genitals, rectum, or throat.

Often, people infected with gonorrhea are also infected with chlamydia. Once diagnosed, gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea In The US Population

In 2014, over 350,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the United States, averaging about 110 cases per every 100,000 members of the population. This rate represents an increase of 5% since 2013 and almost 11% since 2010.

How Gonorrhea Spreads

Gonorrhea is most often spread by vaginal, oral and anal sex. It can also be spread from mother to child during birth. A person can be infected with gonorrhea even if they have been previously treated.

Condoms greatly reduce the risk of spreading infection, but the only 100% sure way to prevent gonorrhea is to not have sex. Therefore, anyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting gonorrhea.

Am I At Risk For Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a risk factor for all sexually active individuals. Having unprotected sex significantly increases your chances of getting gonorrhea, but the disease can still be passed even if condoms are used.

Teenagers and young adults in their 20’s are the most highly affected populations. All sexually active young adults should regularly get tested for both gonorrhea and chlamydia as these infections are often found together. Pregnant mothers with gonorrhea also put their babies at risk of getting the disease.

Gonorrhea And Pregnancy

Women with gonorrhea during a pregnancy suffer higher rates of miscarriage, premature births and infections of the amniotic fluid and surrounding tissue.

Gonorrhea untreated puts you at a higher risk for HIV as well as UTIs. The infection can pass from mother to child during childbirth which most commonly affects the newborn’s eyes.

Although doctors can treat a gonorrhea eye infection in an infant, an untreated eye infection could lead to partial or complete blindness.

Can Gonorrhea Be Cured?

Yes gonorrhea is a relatively harmless infection and easily cured if identified and treated with prescribed medications.

Your healthcare provider will prescribe you an antibiotic, generally tetracycline, quinolones or penicillin.

Some strains of gonorrhea have grown resistant to antibiotics so your doctor may prescribe more aggressive treatment if your infection doesn’t clear up.

How Is Gonorrhea Diagnosed?

Most often a gonorrhea test is performed through urine analysis, although you may be asked for a swab culture from your throat, erethra or rectum.

Like Chlamydia, the gonorrhea test is usually done with a NAAT or NAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) which tests for the presence of neisseria gonorrhoeae.

If you test positive for the bacteria your doctor will prescribe you a round of antibiotics and you’ll be tested again 2-6 weeks later.

Gonorrhea Prevention

Gonorrhea will always be a risk for individuals engaged in non monogmous sexual activity. Properly using both condoms and dental dams can signficantly reduce the risk of infection but there still remains a risk.

Partners should get tested before deciding to have unprotected sex. Individuals engaging in sex with multple partners should always wear a condom.

The History Of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea can be first found in british legislative documents around the early 1600’s.

It’s nickname ‘the clap’ has multiple stories of origin ranging from its relation to French brothel’s (les clapiers) to the sensation it gave sufferers during urination.

Early gonorrhea treatment consisted of injections of mercury, silver nitrate and even dried peppers.

An Overview Of HIV


HIV is a virus (human immunodeficiency virus) that can be transmitted through sexual contact. HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

HIV can be transmitted through the seminal or vaginal fluid, blood or breast milk of an HIV positive person. Approximately 40,000 people contract HIV in the United States each year.

Once someone is infected with HIV, their immune system can weaken and they may have trouble fighting infections that would not normally make them sick.

Once AIDS develops (the third and final stage of HIV), these infections can be life-threatening. HIV cannot be cured but treatment is available.

An untreated HIV infection will lead to death.

HIV In The US Population

Currently over 1.2 million individuals in the United States are living with HIV. Almost 1 in 7 of these individuals doesn’t know that they have the disease.

Between 2005 and 2014 the number of new HIV infections decreased by 20%, primarily due to advances in awareness, testing and treatment, however that number increased for certain affected groups.

How HIV Spreads

HIV is transmitted through sexual contact or sharing contaminated needles and syringes. Bodily fluids such as breast milk, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, seminal fluids and blood are all transmission pathways that carry infected cells through mucous membranes from one individual to the next.

If you think you might have been exposed recently to the HIV virus, contact your healthcare professional immediately as early diagnosis and treatment is paramount.

Am I At Risk For HIV?

Between 2005 and 2014 over 80% of all HIV infections in males occured in gay and bisexual men and nearly 70% of all infections including females.

African American homosexual men are at the highest risk for contracting the disease shortly followed by caucasian homosexual men.

Heterosexual transmission of HIV accounted for a quarter of all infections over the same time period, many times through drug users sharing needles.

What Does HIV Do To The Body?

HIV attacks the body’s immune system and suppressing it’s ability to protect the body from other infections.

In its final stage (AIDS), the HIV infection leaves a sufferer completely vulnerable to infections that healthy individuals wouldn’t be susceptible to.

HIV And Pregnancy

Pregnant women with HIV can pass the HIV infection to their newborn infant but with proper management and treatment a baby may be born completely HIV free.

It should be recommended by your doctor but if not, request a full blood panel STD test at your first prenatal appointment.

This way your doctor will be able to identify any infections that may pose a risk to your unborn child.

Women who are pregnant with HIV should be taking antiretroviral treatment through the term of the pregnancy.

For those with low levels of HIV in the blood a natural vaginal birth can occur, although your doctor may choose to do perform a C-section instead. Breast feeding should be avoided and synthetic replacement may be used instead.

Can HIV Be Cured?

There is no known cure for HIV or AIDS however this infection which was once almost certain to be fatal, can now be managed with treatment and medication.

With early diagnosis and treatment of the infection, HIV can be prevented from entering its third and most deadly stage, AIDS.

HIV research and science has been advancing for decades and HIV patients can now live completely normal lives under the care of a physician’s medication.

How Is HIV Diagnosed?

HIV, like other infections, produces antibodies that can be tested for in both the blood and saliva.

There are three primary tests performed to detect the presence of HIV: antibody tests, combination tests, and nucleic acid tests (NATS).

Early HIV detection is possible up to 7 days after infection with the new FDA approved HIV early detection test. All positive HIV results will be retested and you will be called in for further screening.

HIV Prevention

HIV prevention measures should be taken if you are a member of a highly affected group such as gay and bisexual men.

Proper usage of latex condoms during oral, anal and sexual intercourse is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

Individuals who are at a high risk of coming in contact with the virus may take a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regiment which helps the body fight off the infection.

The History Of HIV

HIV was widely undocumented before the 1980’s but it is believed to have originated in the Congo (Africa) where it spread from chimpanzee to human sometime earlier in the century.

Beginning in the early 1980’s rare infections started to kill younger homosexual men in the US.

In September of 1982 the CDC coined the term ‘AIDS’ for the first time and from that point on cases of the disease started to occur all over the globe.

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Written by STDsSTIs

STDsSTIs is here to help people think, discuss and take responsible action on some of life’s biggest decisions – ones that often don’t get enough attention. We help raise the tough questions and ask young people to consider what really makes sense for them. Together, we can help Coloradans lead healthier lives and raise healthier families.

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