The Humpday Gazette

Posts Tagged ‘STI’s’

HIV

In 12W on March 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

HIV is perhaps the most common disease we think of when it comes to STIs. However, people are often more familiar with myths and stereotypes associated with the retrovirus than the facts. Many don’t understand what exactly HIV could do to their bodies and how it is related to AIDS. First of all, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus; it is a virus that infects and kills a specific type of immune cells –CD4 cells, also known as Helper-T cells, which are responsible for fighting off infection and disease in human bodies.

When first contracting HIV, one can experience several weeks of fever, sore throat, and muscle pain around a month after contracting the virus, due to immediate increased viral load. HIV is often then latent for months or years, depleting Helper-T cells without noticeable symptoms, before developing into AIDS–Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. At this point, especially if not previously diagnosed and treated, HIV has destroyed one’s immune system, leaving the body highly susceptible to any kind of invasion.

HIV can be passed from person to person if an infected individual has unprotected sex or shares injection needles with another person. Also, babies born to women with HIV can become infected during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding. You CANNOT get HIV from simply being around an infected individual or sharing a drink or meal with that person. There is only a very small chance of getting HIV from French-kissing or oral sex (approximately .04% chance per contact), though if you have a sore or lesion in your mouth, there is a possibility for blood contact.

Abstinence is the surest way to avoid contacting HIV sexually, but a monogamous relationship with a tested and uninfected partner could also be a solution. Also, even if your partner is tested, always use protection when engaging in sexual activities. You should never share needles, razors, or toothbrushes with others because there could be some remaining blood on them.

Today, if HIV is discovered through testing, it is no longer the death sentence it formerly was perceived to be, allowing most HIV positive individuals to take medications that allow them to live mostly unchanged lives. However, if undetected or untreated, HIV/AIDS can quickly shave years off one’s life. HIV remains dormant in the body for many years and there are no apparent symptoms during dormancy. The only way to know for sure if you’re infected IS TO GET TESTED. An HIV negative test can be temporary, but, at this point, an HIV positive test is for life. You can expect to have accurate results if you get tested 3 months after exposure.

Schedule an appointment for STI screening at Dick’s House with a provider by calling the Dick’s House appointment office at 603-646-9401. If you are not having any symptoms, STI screening typically involves obtaining a urine sample to check for Chlamydia and doing an oral swab for HIV testing. Please do not urinate one hour prior to the appointment, so you can check for both Chlamydia and HIV with one appointment. You can expect to have accurate Chlamydia results 3 weeks after exposure and accurate HIV results 3 months after exposure.

All information from cdc.gov/hiv

Trichomoniasis

In March 2011 on April 4, 2011 at 4:34 am

Although not widely known, trichomoniasis is a common STI that affects 7.4 million men and women every year.  Trichomoniasis is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, and is more likely to infect woman than men. The parasite affects the vagina in women and the urethra in men. It is sexually transmitted through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva contact with an infected partner; woman are able to contract the parasite through both heterosexual and homosexual contact while men can usually only become infected through heterosexual intercourse. Men are often asymptomatic, but when symptoms do occur they have an irritation inside the penis, a slight/mild discharge and burning after ejaculation and urination. Symptoms in women may include yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong intercourse, discomfort during intercourse and urination, and irritation and itching of genital area. The inflammation caused by the infection may also increase the risk of a woman contracting HIV if she is expose to the virus, as well as increasing the probability that a woman infected with HIV will pass the virus to her sex partners. Trichomoniasis is diagnosed by a health care provider, although infection is harder to detect in men than in women. Trichomoniasis can be cured with prescription drugs that are taken orally in a single dose. These drugs, however, only cure the one infection and do not make a person less susceptible to contracting the parasite in the future.

 

An RN’s Perspective on STIs

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 4:08 am

One of  the contributors’ mothers was asked to contribute to the Hump-Day Gazette for this issue, due to her unique perspective on STDs/STIs, especially HIV/AIDS as someone who has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years.

As a new graduate of a Bachelor of Science and Nursing program at a noteworthy University Medical Center in the Southeast (think Paul Farmer!), I was there as HIV/AIDS was first being diagnosed. Our unit would accept a young man with significant gastrointestinal symptoms and maybe a pneumonia and then watch unbelieving as he deteriorated and died within weeks. It was terrifying for the staff of new nurses, medical students, residents and well-established attending physicians. Quickly the medical community established that these patients suffered from HIV/AIDS. Some had acquired the virus through homosexual contact, but many had gotten it through heterosexual contact or IV drug use. I cared for a beautiful young woman in the medical ICU who was eventually intubated and placed on the ventilator terminally and ultimately died. She had contacted HIV/AIDS from her husband and his source of infection was never identified. I was part of the frenzy that surrounded the original HIV/AIDS diagnosing.

As Health Care workers we were strongly encouraged to use universal precautions in the hospital and to use serious protection in our social lives. We were encouraged to use condoms and to teach anyone who would listen to do the same. No one wanted HIV/AIDS to spread.

As I review articles from the 1980s, I see that some articles support that up to 40% of students who were well aware of AIDS and the importance of using a condom actually did use condoms. Apparently, the passion and commitment of many health care workers and educators has made a difference as the prevalence of new HIV infections in the US has decreased recently.

When I agreed to write this article I wanted to investigate why the dramatic intensity encouraging condom use that we experienced in the 1980s-1990s is no longer.  From what I could gather, because people live chronically with HIV/AIDS, it is old news and the numbers are not increasing in the US. However, the statistics for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections are still frightening.

More recent articles quote the statistics on condom use for college students as being anywhere from 7-20%. Students know they are at risk. The CDC estimates that 1 in 500 college students are HIV positive. However, for some reason, students are ignoring the statistic that each year 1.8 million people are dying from AIDS world-wide.

My point is that students need to remain vigilant They can’t just have a good night of pong and forget about being a tiny bit responsible. Some of the statistics I came across in a very casual search were:

  1. One in four College students has an STD.
  2. Over all there are nineteen million new STDs transmitted each year, almost half among 15-24 year olds.
  3. Eighty percent of people who have STDs experience no noticeable symptoms.
  4. More than half of the participants in a study done among college students believe that they can tell if someone has a STD just by looking at them … NO MATTER HOW SOMEONE DRESSES, ACTS OR LOOKS THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL WITH A RELIABLE DEGEEE OF ACCURACY WHETER SOMEONE HAS AN STD.

Students, pay attention to your Sexperts- get tested and use condoms unless you are in a monogamous relationship and you both have been tested. Bad STDs, STIs and HIV/AIDS are still out there, although they are not as dramatically portrayed as they once were. Pay attention, be smart and make good choices…Your parents and your health care workers love you and want to see you grow up and be happy and HEALTHY!

As always, STD screening at Dick’s House is typically quick and easy. You can schedule an appointment with a provider by calling the Dick’s House appointment office at 603-646-9401. Please do not urinate one hour prior to the appointment.

 

STI of the Month: Genital Herpes

In February 2011 on February 2, 2011 at 3:41 am

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). While HSV-1 is generally associated with oral herpes (cold sores and fever blisters), it is possible for this virus to infect the genitals through mouth-to-genital contact, or, if someone is already infected in the genital region, genital-to-genital contact. Herpes is an extremely common STI: one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 are infected with HSV-1. Herpes is more prevalent in women, with one in five woman being infected between the ages of 14 and 49, as opposed to one in nine men. Studies show that during heterosexual intercourse, it is easier for a woman to contract HSV-2 from her partner than it is for a man. Many people with herpes are unaware of their infection, since the virus is not always symptomatic. When symptoms do occur, they present as painful sores in the genital area, fever and swollen glands. Generally spread through sexual contact, herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact during an outbreak, whether or not sores are present (although the virus is far easier to contract when sores are present). Condoms decrease the risk of spreading herpes; however, since the herpes virus can be present on skin that is not covered by the condom, it is still possible to spread the infection. Because it is a viral STI, there is no cure for HSV-1 or HSV-2, although antivirals can shorten the length of outbreaks. Herpes is diagnosed either by swabbing the sores during an outbreak or looking for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies in a blood test between outbreaks.

For more information on herpes, visit http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm.

November STI: Gonorrhea

In November 2010 on December 17, 2010 at 1:16 am

While the only way to fully protect yourself from STIs is to use protection every single time (and even then, there is still a risk of some viral infections), it is imperative to be able to recognize the symptoms in the case that an accident occurs. An extremely common STI in the US is gonorrhea, a bacterial infection that grows readily within the reproductive tract of both men and women. The CDC estimates that 700,000 Americans are infected with gonorrhea every single year, although only half of this number is reported. Gonorrhea can be spread through any sexual contact (mouth, penis, anus, vagina), but can also be spread from a mother to child during delivery. Because the bacteria can be found anywhere within the reproductive tract (including the entrance of the urethra), ejaculation does not have to occur for the infection to spread. Symptoms can differ between men and women. While some men do not experience any symptoms, those that do may experience burning while urinating, odd-colored penile discharge, and swollen, painful testicles. In women, symptoms are often confused with a bladder or other vaginal infection. Symptoms include burning sensation while peeing, increased vaginal discharge and bleeding between periods. While gonorrhea is curable, untreated gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women and permanent reproductive damage. Once diagnosed, gonorrhea can be treated with several different types of antibiotics.

All facts found at cdc.gov

 

STI’s: First Times and Chlamydia

In September 2010 on December 16, 2010 at 5:06 am

Every sexual encounter comes with risks, whether it is your first time engaging in that activity or not, including the risks of pregnancy and STI’s. The best form of protection your first (and any) time having sex is a condom, which are 97-98% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly and extremely effective at preventing the transmission of HIV. While condoms are very effective in preventing the transmission of both viral and bacterial STIs, some viruses such as HPV are capable of fitting through the microscopic pores in the latex, so its important to know the history of your partner. Your first time should be a healthy, fun experience: remember to be safe!

If you forget to use a condom, it is important to know what kinds of STIs are out there and to be tested for them. The most common STI on college campuses is chlamydia. College freshmen under the age of 20 are 70% more likely to contract chlamydia than their upperclassmen peers. A bacterial infection, chlamydia can be asymptomatic in up to 80% of women and 50% of men. When symptoms do occur, they include abnormal vaginal and penile discharge, burning when urinating and, in women, lower abdominal pain. It is important to get tested for chlamydia after unprotected sex, as it can permanently damage female reproductive organs, leading to infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease. Chlamydia testing is part of routine STI testing available at Dick’s House. STI testing is free at Dick’s House, so you don’t have to worry about your parents’ reactions! If you have unprotected sex, remember, the risks other than pregnancy and go get tested.