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Any time you have sex there is a chance you could get a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The more you know about STIs, the better you can protect yourself.
Bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria passed from person-to-person during sexual activity. You can get treatment to get rid of these sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Once you get treatment you can become infected again, and not all STIs will go away with treatment
There are three STI in this category: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
Most people with chlamydia do not have symptoms and do not know they’re infected. Chlamydia is the most common STI in Milwaukee. It is important to get tested every three to six months to make sure bacterial STIs are caught early and treated quickly. Barriers like condoms and dental dams can prevent the spread of chlamydia during sex.
Gonorrhea is the second most common STI in Milwaukee and the US. It is a bacterial infection, also called “the clap” or “the drip”. Most people do not have symptoms and do not know they have Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause pain, itching, discharge, abnormal bleeding, or pain during urination. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious health problems.
Syphilis has been called “the great pretender” because early symptoms can go unnoticed or be mistaken for something else. It is easy to treat in its early stages but can cause long-term complications and/or death if not treated. People who have symptoms may feel a firm, round, small, and painless sore on the genitals, anus, or mouth or a rash on the body.
Using condoms consistently and correctly every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of syphilis if the sore is covered by the condom.
Viruses passed from person to person during vaginal, anal, or oral sex cause viral STIs. In general, viral STIs can be treated, but the virus will remain in the body. There is no cure for viral STIs.
There are four infections included in this category: HIV, genital herpes, hepatitis B, and HPV.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and is a virus that causes AIDS. HIV is an incurable sexually transmitted virus that attacks and weakens a person’s immune system. Your immune system is a complex system that fights off infection and generally keeps you healthy. Most people will not have symptoms of HIV.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the collection of symptoms, signs, and characteristics that occur once a person’s immune system has been substantially weakened by the HIV infection. On average, it takes more than 10 years for HIV to progress to AIDS. New drugs are being developed to slow the spread of HIV in the body. As these drugs improve, people who are treated for HIV may never develop AIDS.
If you have sex, the best way to prevent HIV is to use a condom consistently and correctly every single time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which is from the same family of viruses that cause cold sores. Cold sores are generally caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes is usually caused by the type HPS-2. Both can infect the genital areas, causing painful sores. There is no cure for genital herpes and often people will have recurring outbreaks of sores.
Herpes is spread through skin to skin contact with an infected area during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Active cold sores can also be spread through kissing.
Using condoms consistently and correctly every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of herpes if the sore is covered by the condom.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the world’s most common sexually transmitted infections. Almost all sexually active people will get one kind of HPV at some point in their lives. Most people who get HPV don’t know they have it because there are no symptoms or signs. For some people, HPV can cause serious health problems like genital warts and certain cancers. Others will not develop any health problems.
Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause scarring of the liver, liver failure, liver diseases such as cirrhosis, and liver cancer. There is no cure for Hepatitis B but a vaccine exists and most infections clear up on their own. The risk of hepatitis B can be reduced by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and by using condoms correctly every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex can reduce the risk of hepatitis B.
These STIs are caused by parasites passed from person-to-person during sexual activity. There are three in this category: trichomoniasis, pubic lice and scabies.
Scabies are parasitic mites that dig holes (burrow) under the surface of the skin and lay eggs. The larvae that hatch move to new areas of the body and spread the infection. Mites prefer warm areas such as the folds of skin on the elbows, wrists, buttocks, knees, shoulder blades, waist, breasts, and penis, between the fingers, and under the nails.
Scabies are spread through close contact with someone who is infected. They do this by crawling from one person to another, since they have no wings. If you think you or your partner might have scabies, avoid close contact until you are tested and treated.
Pubic lice (crabs)
Pubic lice are tiny crab-like insects that nest in pubic hair. They bury their heads into the skin and live off human blood, laying their egg sacks (nits) near the base of the pubic hairs. Pubic lice can be spread during intimate contact. They do this by crawling from one person to another since they have no wings.
If you think you or your partner might have pubic lice, avoid close contact until you are tested and treated.
Trichomoniasis, or trich (pronounced “trick”), is a common curable STI that usually has very few symptoms. It is caused by an infection of microscopic parasites that can infect the vagina, urethra, bladder, cervix or under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis. The best way to prevent trich is to use a condom consistently and correctly every time you have vaginal anal or oral sex.