FAST FACTS ABOUT STDíS

(You may also want to check out Unspeakable.com's STD Clinic Locator)


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
What It Is:
The virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV works by attacking the bodyís immune system, leaving it susceptible to fatal infections and cancers.
How You Can Get It: Through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You canít get contract HIV from kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or even donating blood. You can, however, get it through using infected needles.
Symptoms: You can be infected with HIV and have no symptoms; AIDS takes an average of 7-9 years to develop once HIV enters the body. Symptoms of AIDS, which are caused not by HIV but by the infections that take advantage of the bodyís weakened immune system, include rapid weight loss, chronic fever, diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, and nightsweats. These symptoms can last for weeks or months at a time, and will not go away without treatment. With that said, these are symptoms that are seen in many other diseases that are not AIDS-related, so donít panic and assume that one or more of these mean you have HIV or AIDS.
Detect It: A blood test will determine whether or not you have HIV. The test can be done at an AIDS testing center, clinic, doctorís office, or even with a home test kit. You can request that testing be confidential.
Is It Curable?: No. Contrary to popular belief, there is no cure yet for HIV/AIDS.
Is It Treatable?: Yes, but not universally. Although there have been new developments in treatment over the last few years, and many patientsí lives have been prolonged, different people respond to these medications in different ways. Treatment to slow HIVís attack on the immune system, which involves combining two classes of drugs, is complicated. The other major focus of HIV treatment is preventing and alleviating AIDS-related infections.
Prevent It: Practicing safe sex. Until you trust your partner and know that she or he has been tested for HIV, use a latex condom.
Where To Get Help: The CDC National AIDS Hotline, 1-800-342-AIDS; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.

"HIV - Get Tested!" Week will take place from December 1-9, 2000 in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. Visit www.HIVGetTested.com for details on where to go for free, confidential testing and counseling.


HEPATITIS B
What It Is: An infection of the liver causes by a virus which is 100 times more infectious than HIV. About 300,000 American contract hepatitis B every year. Although most people recover, some become chronic carriers of the disease. This means more problems down the road, such as liver cancer.
How You Can Get It: Hepatitis B is spread like HIV: through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. You can contract the virus through vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
Symptoms: Poor appetite, vomiting, nausea, headaches, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, general fatigue. These usually show up within 2 to 6 weeks after infection. If youíre a chronic carrier who has no symptoms, you can still pass it (unknowingly) to others.
Detect It: If you are experiencing symptoms, or have had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis B, you can get diagnosed through a blood test.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Treatment includes rest, diet, and medication. If your partner or anyone else you come in close contact with is diagnosed with the disease, you can get immunized.
Prevent It: Practice safe sex by using a latex condom. To minimize your risk of getting hepatitis B, never share needles, syringes, or any instruments used for ear-piercing, tattooing, and hair removal. Donít share toothbrushes or razors either. If you find that youíve contracted hepatitis B, avoid sex and other close contact (even kissing), until cleared by a doctor.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


GENITAL HERPES
What It Is: A viral infection that often causes sores in the genital area. If these sores are open and exposed to body fluids that carry HIV (through sex with someone who has HIV), genital herpes increases the risk of contracting HIV. Once you contract herpes, you have it for life, along with the estimated 40 million people who also have it. Each year, about 500,000 new people get herpes, and even more who have it but experience no symptoms.
How You Can Get It: By touching sores and blisters through vaginal, oral, or anal sex; you can also be exposed to the virus by kissing or caressing the infected areas. Areas where sores form are contagious for days before any visible symptoms break out.
Symptoms: Small red bumps that turn into blisterlike sores on the genitals, rear end, thighs, fingers, mouths, etc. Women often experience vaginal discharge and/or burning. Other symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and headaches. All these pop up from between 2 to 20 days after sex with an infected partner. But hereís the kicker: some people experience no symptoms.
Detect It: A physical examination and/or a clinical test will determine whether you have herpes. The test involves collecting a small amount of fluid from a sore and sending it to a lab to see if the herpes virus is present.
Is It Curable?: No.
Is It Treatable?: Yes. Prescription antiviral drugs can reduce pain, length, and frequency of herpes outbreaks. The earlier you get treatment, the more effective it will be.
Prevent It: Practicing safe sex. Limit the number of sex partners, use a condom all the time, and if you think you might be infected, donít hesitate to get tested.
Where To Get Help: The National Herpes Hotline, 1-919-361-8486; The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


CHLAMYDIA
What It Is: A bacterial infection that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and/or sterility if not treated in time. Chlamydia has the dubious honor of being the number one bacterial STD in the U.S. today, with 4 million new cases every year. Itís also known as a "silent epidemic" because 75% of the women and 50% of the men with the disease have no symptoms.
How You Can Get It: Vaginal or anal sex.
Symptoms: Others experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, whitish vaginal or penile discharge, painful or burning urination. Women may also experience lower abdominal pain, painful intercourse, and bleeding between periods. Men may have burning and itching around the opening of the penis and/or pain and swelling in the testicles.
Detect It: With a test from a urine sample or a sample of fluid taken from the infected area.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Yes. Prescription antibiotics will do the trick. Douches, however, will notóand may cause someone to get treatment too late to keep the disease from spreading.
Prevent It: Once again, safe sex is the solution. Approach sexual relationships responsibly, always use a condom, and avoid sexual contact until you can be tested and treated for chlamydia. If you find that you are infected, make sure your partner gets treated so that you wonít get re-infected yourself.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


GONORRHEA
What It Is: A bacterial infection in the vagina or cervix. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the rectum, urethra, and uterus, potentially causing sterility. Occasionally, gonorrhea that goes without treatment can be fatal. About 1 million people in the U.S. contract gonorrhea every year.
How You Can Get It: Vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
Symptoms: Some people have no symptoms; others experience a burning feeling during urination, frequent urination, vaginal or penile discharge, fever, stomach pain, nausea, backache, and painful intercourse. Women can also have bleeding in between periods; about half of the women with gonorrhea have no symptoms.
Detect It: Gonorrhea is determined with a medical test in which a sample of fluid is taken from the penis or vagina, then sent to a lab for results.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Yes. Prescription antibiotics will kill the infecting bacteria. Treatment thatís not completed can spell serious problems down the road, such as abdominal pain, sterility, tubal pregnancy, and painful joints. If you are being treated for gonorrhea, you must stop having sex until youíre cured; the same goes for your partner. This will help you avoid getting reinfected or transmitting the disease to someone else.
Prevent It: Approach your sexual relationships safely and responsibly: limit the number, always use a condom, and, if you think you may be infected, avoid sexual contact until you can get tested.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


SYPHILIS
What It Is: Syphilis can be very serious and actually result in death if left untreated. Like many other STDís, you can have syphilis without knowing it. About 120,000 new cases of syphilis get diagnosed in the U.S. every year.
How You Can Get It: Through oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
Symptoms: The preliminary symptoms are often a painless sore around the vagina or penis, or inside the mouth or anus. Even if this sore disappeared on its own, the bacterial infection is still in the body. Later, you might develop flu-like symptoms, as well as potential hair loss and skin rashes. Itís rare, but a third stage might develop years later as skin lesions, mental deterioration, loss of balance and vision, numbness, leg pain, and heart disease.
Detect It: By getting a blood test; however, it takes 2 to 3 weeks after infection for the blood test to be accurate.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Yes, with antibiotic medication.
Prevent It: Approach your sexual relationships safely and responsibly: limit the number, always use a condom, and, if you think you may be infected, avoid sexual contact until you can get tested.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


TRICHOMONIASIS
What It Is: "Trich" is an infection causes by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It hits about 2 to 3 million Americans every year, and weakens the immune system, making an infected person more susceptible to HIV.
How You Can Get It: Vaginal sex.
Symptoms: Heavy greenish discharge with a foul odor, vaginal itching and/or burning, abdominal pain, frequent urination, painful intercourse. A womanís symptoms can get worse after her period. Most men with trich have no symptoms, but might have symptoms like unusual penile discharge, painful urination, and tingling inside the penis.
Detect It: By getting a medical test in which a sample of fluid is taken from the penis or vagina, then sent to a lab for results.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Prescription antibiotics.
Prevent It By: Practicing safe sex and knowing your partnerís sexual history. Because Trichomonia can survive on objects such as sheets, towels, and clothing, it can potentially be transmitted by sharing these. Even though men with the disease are almost always without symptoms, itís extra-important that they be treated so they donít infect others.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


GENITAL HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV)
What It Is: A viral infection that causes genital warts; there are actually over 60 different types of this virus. About 40 million Americans are diagnosed with HPV, with 1 million new cases every year. If HPV goes too long without treatment, the risk of cervical cancer increases.
How You Can Get It: Vaginal or anal intercourse; however, you can also contract HPV simply by touching the infected area.
Symptoms: Warts on the genitals and anal area. A person may be infected and contagious with no visible warts. Either way, HPV can cause abnormal cell growth on the female cervix. Visible signs of HPV show up within 3 weeks to 6 months after having sex with someone whoís infected.
Detect It: A doctor can examine the potentially infected area for warts and other unusual tissue. Women can also have a Pap smear, which will detect changes to the cervix that may be caused by HPV.
Is It Curable?: No.
Is It Treatable?: The warts can be removed, but often return because the virus stays in the body. Your doctor can remove smaller warts, and severe cases can be treated with laser surgery.
Prevent It: Condoms provide limited protection. The best way to reduce your risk of getting HPV is to limit your sexual partners. Women should have Pap smears every 6 months to screen for HPV.
Where To Get Help: HPV Hotline at 1-877-HPV-5868; the National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.


PUBIC LICE and SCABIES

What It Is: Pubic lice, also known as Crabs, are tiny insects that live on the skin. They infect the hairy parts of the body, and lay eggs on body hair. Scabies is the result of a tiny female insect, a mite, burrowing into a personís skin to lay eggs.
How You Can Get It: Although these are often spread through sexual contact, you can also get them by using the same sheets, clothes, or towels as an infected person.
Symptoms: Extreme itching in the genital areas. With pubic lice, you might see pinhead-sized insects or eggs on the skin or body hair. With scabies, a skin rash may develop.
Detect It: A doctorís examination will determine whether you have pubic lice or scabies.
Is It Curable?: Yes.
Is It Treatable?: Yes, with shampoos, creams, and lotions that are often available without a prescription. Wash all infected clothing, sheets, etc. with very hot water.
Prevent It: Know your partnerís sexual history.
Where To Get Help: The National STD hotline at 1-800-227-8922; Planned Parenthoodís clinic locator, 1-800-230-PLAN.