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STIs are infections transmitted during intercourse or skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Not all persons with a sexually transmitted infection show symptoms, but if there are symptoms, generally they appear in the genital area. The most common symptoms include: abnormal discharge, sores or lesions, rash or bumps, pain with urination, flu-like symptoms, and abdominal or pelvic pain.

The best way to reduce your chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection is abstinence, or using a condom with each act of intercourse. If you think you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection, contact your health care provider for testing and treatment. STIs are very common in sexually active people. All are treatable and most can be cured.

There is more information below about specific STIs. If you have questions about any of these, please do not hesitate to call Aradia Women's Health Center at 206-323-9388.

Chlamydia
Gonorrhea
Herpes
HIV/AIDS
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pubic Lice
Syphilis
Trichomoniasis
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Chlamydia (chlamydia trachomatis)

Chlamydia is caused by bacteria and leads to reproductive tract infections, as well as eye and lung infections in infants born to infected mothers. Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs, and one of the most serious.

Diagnosis: A swab is taken of the discharge in the vagina and cervix and sent to a lab. The practitioner will also assess color of discharge.
Symptoms: Often no symptoms are present. If they occur, they usually begin one to three weeks after infection. Women may experience vaginal discharge, painful urination, lower abdominal pain, low-grade fever, spotting after sex or bleeding between periods. Men may have a penile discharge or painful urination. Fifty percent of all men and 70 percent of women have no symptoms and don't know they have Chlamydia.
Treatment: Antibiotics are needed for treatment. All sex partners must be treated in the same way. Avoid sexual intercourse for seven days until the entire course of antibiotics is completed.
Potential Complications: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, infertility, arthritis and/or cervicitis. Ectopic pregnancy risk increases in a woman who has Chlamydia.

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Gonorrhea (Nesseria gonorrhoeae)

Gonorrhea is a very common bacteria transmitted during sexual contact and childbirth.

Diagnosis: A swab is taken of the discharge in the vagina and cervix and sent to a lab. The practitioner will also assess color of discharge.
Symptoms: Often absent, but may include penile pus, vaginal discharge or burning with urination. Symptoms may appear between two days and three weeks after exposure. In the throat, it may cause a dry, sore, scratchy feeling.
Treatment: Antibiotics are needed for Gonorrhea, either in shot or pill form. All sexual partners must be treated the same way. Generally, you will also be treated for Chlamydia. Avoid sexual intercourse until one week after treatment is completed.
Potential Complications: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, sterility, arthritis, meningitis and/or heart problems.

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Herpes (Herpes Simplex Virus 1: oral herpes; Herpes Simplex Virus 2: genital herpes)

Herpes is actually two viruses that can infect either the mouth or the genitals. Herpes I causes cold sores when it is an oral infection, but can also be present on the genitals. Herpes II appears as sores in the genital region, but can also be present on the mouth. At least 50 million people in the United States have genital herpes and most people infected with genital herpes have not been diagnosed.

Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, and is most transmittable during an outbreak and within the first one to two years of infection. However, it can be transmitted during a dormant stage, when no herpes sores are visible or when the person is not experiencing any symptoms. Most genital herpes infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have an infection, or who are not showing symptoms at the time of transmission.

Diagnosis: Skin will be checked for sores and a current outbreak, and a culture may be taken of the open lesion; blood is drawn to test for herpes.
Symptoms: Lesions usually appear at the site of infection within two to 21 days after exposure to the virus. Fluid filled sores or lesions may itch, burn, tingle or cause pain. Flu-like symptoms often accompany the first outbreak. Some people can carry the virus, but may never have an outbreak.
Treatment: While there is no cure for Herpes, oral anti-virals can reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
Potential Complications: Cervical cancer, premature delivery, miscarriage, blindness and/or death of infant born to infected mother.

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HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

HIV is the retrovirus associated with AIDS. The virus is transmitted by infected persons through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids, sharing needles and through contaminated blood products.

Once infected, the virus attacks specific cells in the immune system and depletes the body's ability to fight off illnesses, which many times become the cause of death. This process can take years. During most of that time, the infected person has no symptoms.

Diagnosis: A blood test will be done, with a discussion of symptoms and past infections.
Symptoms: Flu-like at the time of infection. After a few months to a few years, the infected person may experience persistent low-grade fever, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, night sweats, swollen glands, cough, sores or yeast infections. Symptoms can last weeks, months and even years before someone is diagnosed as HIV positive or has AIDS.
Treatment: There is no cure for HIV. Onset of symptoms can be delayed by aggressive anti-retroviral drug therapy and protease inhibitors. HIV infected patients manage symptoms for long periods with these medications. Individuals have also claimed some success using acupuncture, Chinese herbs and homeopathy.

Due to the social and medical impact, it is standard practice to notify all partners of someone with an HIV infection. The HIV infected person or a representative of the Public Health Department can notify former and current partners of one's HIV status.

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HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) -- Learn more about the HPV Vaccine!

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is passed through sexual contact – which includes vaginal, anal and oral sex. There are 40 different types of HPV that are sexually transmitted. Both women and men can get infected. Most types of HPV have no symptoms and go away after time. But some types do not go away, and can permanently change the cells on a woman’s cervix. This can lead to cervical cancer, if it is not discovered and treated. And some types of HPV can lead to genital warts in men and women.
Diagnosis: For genital warts the skin is checked for bumps and warts. To check for cervical cancer a pap smear is done to get a culture of cells in the cervix.
Symptoms: May appear weeks, months or years after transmission – three months on average. Warts can be different sizes, shapes and colors. They may grow inside or outside the vagina, cervix, penis, testicles or anal area. For some women, the only symptom is a pap smear with abnormal results.
Potential Complications: Cervical cancer; men can have cellular changes linked to cancer as well.
Prevention: The only 100 percent way to not get an HPV is abstinence (not having vaginal, anal or oral sex). If you are sexually active, you can reduce your chances of getting HPV by using a condom. However, a condom does not provide 100 percent protection since it does not cover all the areas where the virus may be exposed.
HPV Vaccine: This new vaccine prevents the transmission of four types of HPV: two which can cause cervical cancer (types 16 and 18), and two which can cause genital warts (types 6 and 11). This vaccine will prevent up to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts cases! And it is incredibly safe and effective. Read more about the HPV Vaccine.
Treatment: There is no cure for HPV- only treatment for health problems HPV causes. Genital warts can be removed by chemical treatments, freezing (cryotherapy) or laser therapy. Even when warts are treated, they may reappear and spread.

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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is a very serious infection, which is usually the result of an untreated STI that spreads from the cervix into the uterus or fallopian tubes. Even when treated promptly and aggressively, PID can scar the fallopian tubes, resulting in sterility or diminished fertility, and an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy.

Diagnosis: Discussion about a client's physical pain, temperature and symptoms, and any untreated or undiagnosed STIs.
Symptoms: Lower abdominal pain, pain during sex, tenderness during pelvic exam, abnormal menstrual bleeding, discharge, fever, nausea, vomiting, and/or low back, leg or kidney pain.
Treatment: At least two different antibiotics are needed to ensure that all organisms are treated. PID may require hospitalization.
Potential Complications: Peritonitis, death, tubo-ovarian abscess, scarring, pain and/or infertility.

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Pubic Lice (a.k.a. crabs)

Pubic lice are parasites that look like tiny crabs. They live primarily in pubic hair and literally jump from person to person during sexual contact. Sharing infested clothing and bedding can also pass pubic lice. Pubic lice can also infest other hairy parts of the body, such as the armpit, chest, eyebrow or eyelashes.

Diagnosis: Practitioner will inspect the body and check for symptoms.
Symptoms: Some may notice lice or eggs, intense itching or a rash. Others feel nothing or have a delayed response up to 30 days.
Treatment: Insecticide lotion. Wash all clothing, towels and bedding in hot, soapy water. Treat all sex partners and household members.
Potential Complications: Infections at lice burrowing sites if itched to the point of raw bleeding.

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Syphilis (Treponema pallidum)

Syphilis is a very serious bacterial infection transmitted by contact with the sores of the infected person.

Diagnosis: Skin checked for sores or rash, discussion of symptoms and blood is drawn to check for bacteria. Syphilis sores can resemble herpes, warts, scabies or hemorrhoids.
Symptoms: Symptoms occur in four stages, and may go unnoticed until later stages. Syphilis is extremely infectious during the first two stages. Stage 1: Ten to 90 days after exposure, a painless sore (chancre) may appear at the site of infection (mouth, vagina, rectum or penis) and is often accompanied by swollen lymph nodes. The sore may never be noticed because it disappears within two to six weeks post-exposure. Stage 2: After the sore disappears, a rash (on hands, feet, chest or neck) appears, along with swollen glands, fever or fatigue. This stage can last two weeks to six months. After the last of these symptoms disappear, damage to the brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs may begin but not be seen or felt. Early Latent Stage: Lasts up to one year from the time of infection. No visible signs. Late/Late Latent Stage: Begins after one year of being infected. The infection is not generally contagious at this stage, but unnoted damage continues until treatment or death.
Treatment: Treated with an antibiotic. This can be given at any stage to prevent further damage. All sex partners must be treated as well.
Potential Complications: Dementia, blindness, death and/or birth defects.

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Trichomoniasis (trichomonas vaginalis, a.k.a. "trich")

Trichomoniasis is a parasite that is transmitted by sexual contact. The trichomonads live in the wet areas of the genitals of infected people.

In men, trichomonads can live in the prostate without causing noticeable irritation; however, it is easily transmitted to sex partners. In women, trichomonads live in the vagina and can be passed to male or female partners.

Diagnosis: The practitioner will take a swab of the vaginal discharge to analyze under a microscope.
Symptoms: Usually occurs four to 20 days following infection and may include vaginal or labial burning and itching, and/or foul or fishy smelling discharge that can be yellowish, green, or gray. The discharge may have a frothy or sticky appearance. Sometimes women may experience pain with intercourse or with urination. Not all infected persons have symptoms.
Treatment: This is an easily treatable infection with antibiotics. All sexual partners are treated at the same time to avoid repeated infections.
Potential Complications: None, unless contracted when you are pregnant.

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