Part 2: The Most Common STIs/STDs – Genital Herpes, Syphilis, HPV

In Part 1 of this blogpost, we discussed the first set of the most common STIs/STDs; Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV. Similar to these three, Genital Herpes, Syphilis, and HPV are also increasingly common in the U.S., especially among young people.

STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) and STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) are diseases/infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral sex). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that people age 15 to 24 account for 50% of the 20 million new STI’s that occur in the United States annually, despite the fact that this age group makes up just 27% of the sexually active population. Studies also show that infertility issues in 24,000 women each year are attributed to undiagnosed STI’s. 

Many people don’t know that they are infected because STI’s often have no symptoms. When STI’s go untreated, they advance to become an STD. Below are some of the most common STI’s/STD’s:

Genital Herpes

More than 1 out of every 6 people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes, making it one of the most common STD in the United States. Besides having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone already who has the disease, Genital Herpes can also be contracted through contact with the virus through:

  • 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)

Unlike STDs such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes is incurable.

Syphilis

This is an STI that can cause serious health problems including death if not treated. The signs, symptoms, and health consequences to the body advance from one stage to another when the infection goes untreated. They include:

Primary stage: Those infected may notice a single or multiple round, firm sores which represent where the syphilis bacteria entered the body. The sores usually last 3 to 6 weeks, and because they are painless, they may go unnoticed and therefore remain untreated. 

Secondary stage: Those infected may develop skin rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions (sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus). Symptoms may also include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue. 

Latent stage: In this stage, there are no visible signs or symptoms. The syphilis bacteria will stay in the body for years if it goes untreated.

Tertiary stage: At this stage, the infection advances into a disease that damages internal organs and can result in death. Complications include neurosyphilis which affects the brain and the nervous system, and ocular syphilis which affects the eyes, sometimes causing blindness. 

HPV

HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the most common STI in the United States, affecting more than 70 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20’s. Undeveloped HPV has no symptoms and there are often no health problems associated with it. However, if the infection does not go away, it advances to cause genital warts and certain kinds of cancer. Many women find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening).

If you and/or your partner have engaged in risky sexual behaviors that may increase your risk for contracting an STI/STD, it’s highly recommended that you get tested for your health and safety, and to consider a change in your sexual behaviors. The only 100% foolproof way to prevent STI’s/STD’s is through abstinence or sex in a committed, permanently monogamous relationship.

AbbaCare Pregnancy Resource Center provides free STI/STD testing and treatment for our pregnancy clients and their partners. Call 540.665.9660 for more information. 

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