STD’s: From Diagnosis To Treatment

by Ann Steele Community Director, NurseJournal.org   

Stop STD'sWe often think of sexually transmitted diseases or STD’s as scary life-ending killers, and while it’s true that some of them can be quite life-changing, if we practice safe sex and take care of ourselves, then we can lower our chances of coming into contact with one. Even STD’s that are incurable and cause life threatening challenges have had amazing breakthroughs over the past decade and there are treatments available for many of them that have made life much easier. Some STD’s are genital herpes, viral hepatitis, and human papillomavirus; let’s take a look at a few of the more commonly known forms of sexually transmitted diseases and discuss how to look for signs and get treatment.

Chlamydia Signs and Symptoms

Chlamydia can go unnoticed in either sex although it can also produce a yellow discharge for males and females, as well as a stinging sensation during urination. While most men who carry it won’t display any symptoms, they can still pass it on to multiple partners. Women, on the other hand, may come into contact with chlamydia and not realize that they have it until they’re tested, but can have long lasting effects from this virus. For this reason, sexually active women within North America, and many other countries are encouraged to get tested yearly until they are twenty-five years of age. Although it doesn’t supply noticeable symptoms, chlamydia can take its toll on a woman’s body and leave her infertile. If you get chlamydia while pregnant, there is a strong chance that it will pass to your child.

Fortunately, chlamydia can be cured, and with a cotton swab test your doctor can tell you if you have it and treat you with medication that will get rid of any symptoms you might have and kill the virus as well.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chlamydia Fact Sheet
Chlamydia Testing and Treatment (PDF)
Chlamydia Infection Causes and Signs

A Gonorrhea Diagnosis

We tend to see gonorrhea most prevalently among people between the ages of 18 and 24, although it isn’t impossible for older men and women to be diagnosed as well. This infection affects the genitals, throat, and anus depending on which method of sexual activity is encountered. For this reason, doctors have expressed concern about birth control methods and protection during intercourse, even when oral and anal sex is the focus. Discharge, itchiness, soreness, swelling, and bleeding are all symptoms of this virus.

A swab, urine, or blood sample can be taken to verify this virus so that treatment can be given accordingly. Although gonorrhea is curable, there are non-curable strains being spread as well, which mean that we must take medications as doctors prescribe them, and follow instructions to protect ourselves from future encounters.

Cephalosporin-Resistant Gonorrhea (PDF)
Teen Health and Gonorrhea
Symptoms and Treatment

Living with HIV or AIDS

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is easily recognized as the most commonly known STD, and while there’s no cure, there are treatments available that can slow the development of this virus. This virus attacks and destroys cells in our bodies that fight infections, such as the CD4 cells that work for our immune systems. This means that not only could cancers and other diseases have much stronger negative impacts on our systems, but even something as simple as the a cold or flu could progress and linger, and even cause irreparable damage. As HIV progresses it turns into auto immunodeficiency syndrome, which is the most advanced and fatal stage of the virus, and is often fatal. HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, breast milk, and vaginal, and can be passed from mother to child during birth.

HIV usually appears first in the form of flu symptoms, and may linger, but seem harmless in the beginning. A fever or rash may accompany headaches, nausea, and other common cold and flu symptoms. After infection these sorts of signs will come and go for the following few months, until more extreme symptoms begin to occur. It can take up two or more than ten years for HIV to develop into full blown AIDS, and the virus can be passed on to another person at any time. Unlike other viruses like the one for herpes which is only passed on when symptoms are flaring, HIV can move from person to person even before the first symptom is experienced.

People who have come into contact with STD’s in the past have a two to five times chance of becoming infected over those who have never been infected with another sexually transmitted disease.

Aids Fact Sheet
WHO Clinical Staging of HIV and AIDS (PDF)
Overview of AIDS treatment



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