HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). A positive HIV test can be a life-changing event. HIV wears down the body’s immune system over time. Eventually, HIV can progress to AIDS. People with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections. These infections do not usually make healthy people sick. Those with HIV/AIDS are also more likely to develop certain cancers, neurological disorders, and a host of other conditions.
There is currently no official cure for either HIV or AIDS. This is why it is so important to get regularly tested. STD testing means early detection. Early detection means better treatment for you and a reduced risk of giving HIV to someone else.
Herpes is caused by either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. HSV-1 is incredibly common and usually causes oral herpes. Many people notice no symptoms or show only minimal signs of herpes infections.
When signs of genital herpes do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores). These first-time sores may take two to four weeks to heal. Another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first. However, later outbreaks are usually not as severe or as long-lasting as the first one. Fortunately, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over time.
People can manage their symptoms, but there is no cure for herpes. Even condoms will not always prevent this infection. This is because sores can appear in different places, not just condom-covered ones. (Condoms are still important, though. Proper use can decrease the chances of catching herpes and other STDs.)
Chlamydia is the most common STD. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. This STD can damage a woman’s reproductive organs if left untreated. Symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent. Yet just because symptoms are mild doesn’t mean chlamydia can’t cause some serious damage. In fact, serious complications can occur and cause irreversible damage, including infertility. This can all happen “silently,” before someone even realizes they have this STD. Chlamydia also can affect men. Although rare, men can also face long-term complications from this STD. Fortunately, chlamydia is easily detected with a simple test.
The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes the extremely common STD gonorrhea. This bacterium can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract. This can include the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), fallopian tubes (egg canals), and the urethra (urine canal). The infection can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. If you may have been exposed to gonorrhea, you should get tested to receive an accurate diagnose.
The bacterium Treponema pallidum causes syphilis. You may have heard people call it “the great imitator.” This is because so many signs of syphilis look very similar to the symptoms of other diseases. This imitation makes it incredibly hard to diagnose this STD based on symptoms alone. A broad panel of STD tests is a helpful way to see if any symptoms are from syphilis or something else.
Hepatitis means an inflammation of the liver, and it isn’t just transmitted sexually. In fact, many different things can cause hepatitis. Certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause this disease.
When people think of hepatitis, they are probably thinking of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C. Looking for symptoms alone is no way to be certain of your health status; a full panel STD tests can check for different types of hepatitis.
Many commonly call this STD trich and pronounce it like “trick.” Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.7 million people in this country alone have it. The CDC also reports that roughly 70% of people infected with trich don’t notice any signs of this STD.
Urinalysis (UA) is a clinical term for a common urine test. These tests can reveal a lot about people’s health, like if they use drugs or have an STD like chlamydia. So, a UA can give people a better idea of their overall health, including their sexual health.
How does this work? Let’s break it down. Kidneys are located on either side of the spine at the bottom of the rib cage, and they are an important part of the urinary system. What exactly do kidneys do? Well, they filter wastes out of the blood, help regulate how much water is in the body, and conserve proteins, electrolytes, and other compounds that the body can reuse. And anything the body doesn’t need? That’s removed through urine.
Urine travels from the kidneys to the bladder, through the urethra, and out of the body. Urine is generally yellow and relatively clear. However, every time someone urinates, the color, quantity, concentration, and content of the urine will be slightly different for various reasons. These reasons range from dehydration to having an STD.
If you suspect you have contracted one or more STDs, the best way to take charge of the situation is to take an STD panel. This way, you can be absolutely certain of your sexual health. A leading indicator of carrying an STD is a previous diagnosis. In fact, having one STD makes you more susceptible to new infections. For this reason, a broad panel of STD screens is often recommended.
Having safer sex means you face less risk of contracting an STD (also known as an STI) and experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. But just what does safer sex mean? If you want to better protect yourself and any partners you have, it pays to know how to properly practice safer sexual activities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm.
Kidney and Urology Foundation of America. Urinary system and how it works. National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.kidneyurology.org/Library/Urologic_Health.php/Urniary_system_and_how_works.php.