Gonorrhea can cause an infection in your genital tract, mouth, throat, or anus. Symptoms in men include penile discharge and pain with urination. In women, early symptoms are mild enough to go unnoticed, and may include vaginal discharge and pain during sex. Gonorrhea can often be treated successfully with antibiotics, but antibiotic-resistant strains are becoming more common.
Chlamydia can infect both men and women in a similar fashion as Gonorrhea. Symptoms may not appear for several weeks, if at all, and may include mild pain with urination and some discharge. Even without symptoms present, Chlamydia can be transmitted between sexual partners.
Oral Herpes (HSV1) Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes sores on your mouth (“cold sores”), which can spread to genitals through oral contact. HSV symptoms are called outbreaks because a painful blister lesion occurs. Most people get HSV1 during childhood and by kissing. It is thought that up to 80% of people have been exposed to or have HSV1.
Genital Herpes (HSV2) can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. HSV 2 is transmitted mainly through genital to genital contact when a person has a lesion but can occur without a lesion as well. It can take between 20 days and 6 months for a lesion to first occur. HSV remains in your body for life, and is controlled by your immune system’s ability to keep it suppressed. Correct use of condoms, antiviral medicines and a strong immune system can help lessen symptoms, decrease outbreaks, and lower the risk of passing the virus to others.
HPV: Human Papilloma Virus is the most common STI. It is so common that most people are exposed and infected by it by the age of 30, but the immune system is strong enough to fight it and it goes away without any signs or symptoms. HPV has many different strains, some of which are responsible for cervical, anal, mouth/throat cancers, genital warts and even benign warts on skin.
The best prevention against cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against the most lethal strains of HPV, to use condoms, and for women to get regularly screened for cervical cancer from ages 21 through 65. Vaccination against HPV is now recommended for all boys and girls starting at ages 11 or 12 years. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 (or age 26 for men who have sex with a men) and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
Syphilis infections are on the increase, particularly in men who have sex with men. Symptoms can be divided into three stages. The first is a painless sore that can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump. The sore can last from 3 to 6 weeks and heals regardless of whether or not you receive treatment. Syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth. Without treatment, syphilis infections move to the second stage, a non-itchy body rash that can show up on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, all over your body, or in just a few places.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, weakens your immune system by destroying important cells (T-cells) that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV but the infection can be controlled with antiviral medications. Over time the damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. Opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS.Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. In addition to safe sex, you may be able to take advantage of newer medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis(PEP).