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78 Little Known Facts About . . .

STIs/STDs

  1. An STI (sexually transmitted infection) is a germ (virus, bacteria, parasite) that can cause an illness inside a person even though the person doesn’t have any symptoms. An STD (sexually transmitted disease) refers to infections that are causing symptoms or problems.j
  2. A Brazilian Web site lets people send their partners e-cards informing them they have an STD and that they should see a doctor.l
  3. STIs/STDs were previously called “venereal diseases” (VDs), a term which derives from Veneris, or Venus, the Roman goddess of love.a
  4. By 2010, at least 35 million children will have lost one or both parents to AIDS.e
  5. Child rape is an epidemic in Africa, largely due to the entrenched belief that sex with a virgin can cure sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS.c
  6. Direct medical costs associated with STIs/STDs in the United States are estimated at $13 billion per year.d
  7. girl in bed
    Women often suffer more serious health complications from STIs/STDs than men
  8. A girl is four times more likely to contract an STI/STD than she is to become pregnant.d
  9. Pre-ejaculate can still transmit infection. Withdrawing before ejaculation also does not prevent STDs.d
  10. Douching (from the Latin ducere, “to lead”) before and after sex does not protect against STDs/STIs and, in fact, may promote an infection after exposure to an STI/STD.d
  11. Unprotected anal intercourse with a partner whose status for STIs/STDs is unknown is the highest-risk sexual practice.k
  12. Genital pimples do not necessarily mean an STD and may simply indicate a case of genital acne.d
  13. Each year there are approximately 333 million new cases of STDs in the world, according to the CDC.j
  14. Women and their children are at much greater risk than men for long-lasting or permanent consequences of STIs/STDs.j
  15. The first hospital for venereal disease was the London Lock Hospital in 1746. Treatment was not always voluntary.a
  16. Over 25 million people globally have died of AIDS since 1981.e
  17. The CDC initially called AIDS the “gay cancer” and later renamed it GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). In 1982, the disease was renamed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).i
  18. The estimated number of people living in the U.S. with a viral STD/STI is over 65 million. One in two sexually active people will contact an STD/STI before the age of 25.j
  19. hpv
    HPV is the fast growing STI/STD in the United States
  20. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is currently the fastest growing STI/STD.j
  21. Mutual masturbation is not a guarantee against contracting an STD. Pubic lice, scabies, bacterial vaginosis cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and human papillomavirus virus (HPV) can all be contracted through mutual masturbation.d
  22. Crabs (pubic lice) are small parasites that feed on human blood. They can be sexually transmitted even if there is no penetration or bodily fluid exchanged or even if a condom is worn. They can live 24 hours off a human host, making it possible to get crabs from infested bedding or clothes. Animals do not get crabs.i
  23. Donovanosis is a very rare sexually transmitted disease. Small, painless nodules appear after 10-40 days after exposure and, if left untreated, can destroy penile tissue.i
  24. The origins of STIs/STDs are obscure. Some researchers have argued that microbes adapted themselves to affect the human genital area or even jumped from animals to humans.a
  25. Curable STIs/STDs are usually bacterial and include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Viral STIs/STDs cannot be cured and include HPV (though the body can clear this disease), Herpes, Hepatitis B, and HIV.d
  26. While some STIs/STDs—such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—are curable, if left untreated, they can cause death, infertility, chronic pain, serious birth defects, and miscarriages.d

    Could It Be an STI/STD?

    Bacterial STIs/STDs

    STD Symptoms/Signs Complications Treatment Transmission
    Chlamydia

    Infects 4 million per year in the U.S.
    Women: Most women (75%) show no signs. Some may have slight vaginal discharge, pain during urination and sex, and/or frequent urination, low abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, bleeding between menstrual periods

    Men: 50% of men do not show symptoms. Some may experience discharge, itchy feeling in penis, mild urination pain, or infection of anus or throat
    Women: infertility, infected cervix, pelvic pain, PID, ectopic pregnancy, arthritis Men: infertility, arthritis, eye infections, urinary infections Curable with antibiotics

    Surgery may be needed if PID has developed.
    Body Fluid
    Gonorrhea

    Infects 718,000 per year in the U.S.
    Women: Most women show no signs, some may have thick, cloudy, or bloody vaginal discharge, urination pain, frequent urination

    Men: thick yellow-green discharge from the penis, penis pain, pain on urinating

    Men and women: rectum may become infected with pain, bleeding, and discharge. Throat may be sore
    Women: sterility, PID

    Men: sterility, swollen testes

    Men and Women: heart, brain, and liver infections, arthritis
    Curable with antibiotics, though some strains are resistant

    Surgery may be needed if PID developed
    Body Fluid
    Syphilis

    Infects 31,000 per year in the U.S.
    Stage 1: painless sores that can last 3-6 weeks and disappear, swollen glands, and skin rashes

    Stage 2: rashes, new sores, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, muscle pain

    Stage 3: severe and irreversible damage to body
    Skin, bone, heart, brain disease

    Dementia, blindness, paralysis

    Lung and liver tumors, death
    Curable with antibiotics Skin-to-skin contact


    Viral STIs/STDs

    STD Symptoms/Signs Complications Treatment Transmission
    Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, genital warts)

    Infects 6.2 million per year in the U.S.
    Nearly 98% of HPV strains are asymptomatic. A few strains cause visible warts that occur on the vagina, penis, urethra, cervix, throat, or anus Cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, vagina, throat, or anus. Warts may reappear throughout life No cure

    Most infections are cleared by the body after 1-2 years
    Skin-to-skin contact
    Genital Herpes (HSV)

    Infects 1.6 million per year in the U.S.
    Women: stinging, itching blisters and sores in genitals, fever, headache, painful urination, vaginal discharge

    Men: Stinging, itching blisters or sores on penis, fever, headaches, painful urination
    Can spread even without apparent sores

    Outbreaks occur throughout life, especially when under stress

    50% unaware they are infected
    No cure Skin-to-skin
    HIV/AIDS

    Infects 40,000 per year in the U.S.
    Maybe symptom-less for 10 years, some may feel sick two to six weeks after infection HIV destroys the immune system and leads to AIDS. The result is death. No cure Bodily fluids


  27. Over 180 million cases of trichomoniasis occur worldwide per year. In the United States, it is estimated that 7.4 million new cases of trichomoniasis occur each year.d
  28. Though scientists first recognized HIV/AIDS as a disease in 1981, it was introduced into North America by a Haitian immigrant during the late 1960s.b
  29. intimate couple
    Oral sex can spread many common STIs/STDs, including HIV
  30. Many sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, can be transmitted through oral sex.i
  31. Chlyamida is Greek for “cloak” because early researchers believed the disease “cloaked” the nucleus of an infect cell.a Chlamydia is found only in human cells, though it shares a common ancestor with plants and exhibits unusual plant-like traits.f
  32. Nearly 700,000 people in the United States are infected with gonorrhea per year. Gonorrhea is also called “the clap,” from the Middle English clapper meaning a rabbit burrow, which was slang for a place of prostitution.a
  33. HIV/AIDS originated in primates in Sub-Sahara Africa and transferred to humans during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, probably when a bushmeat hunter was bitten or cut by an infected animal.i
  34. The CDC estimates that 20 million Americans are currently infected with the genital human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.d
  35. Nearly 6.2 million Americans get a new HPV infection each year. Most HPV infections cause no clinical problems and resolve on their own without treatment (91% of new infections clear up within two years).d
  36. Some strains of HPV can lead to a persistent infection that can progress to cervical cancer if left untreated. Every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States and nearly 4,000 die. However, cervical cancer is largely preventable with effective screening.d
  37. There is now a vaccine that prevents some types of HPV. The vaccine is given in three shots over six months and is recommended for females aged 13-26 who have not been diagnosed with HPV. Most major insurances cover the cost, which is currently $125 per shot.d
  38. Roughly 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States occur each year.e
  39. Between 1,500 and 1,700 new cases of new HIV/AIDs infections occur daily in South Africa.e
  40. As of 2007, an estimated 1 to 1.2 million Americans were living with HIV/AIDS, with 21% undiagnosed.e
  41. The rate of chlamydia among African-American men is more than 11 times that of white men. Additionally, African-Americans remain the group most heavily affected by gonorrhea. In 2004, the gonorrhea rate among blacks was 19 times the rate among whites.d
  42. Although African-Americans make up only 13% of the U.S. population, they accounted for one half of the estimated new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2004.e
  43. teenagers
    12,000 teenagers contract an STD each day in U.S. alone
  44. Although teenagers and young adults represent only 25% of the sexually active population, 15- to 24-year-olds account for nearly half of all STIs/STDs diagnoses each year. Every day in America, 12,000 teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease.d
  45. With a single chlamydia infection, there is a 25% chance of sterility for women. With a second infection, there is a 50% chance. And a third infection almost guarantees sterility, due to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease).d
  46. Infertility as a result of PID accounts for 50-80% of the infertility in Africa.i
  47. Black women in 2002 accounted for 67% of the U.S. AIDS cases among women.i
  48. The single biggest driver of heterosexual spread of AIDS to black women is the incarceration of black men.i
  49. Despite more discussions about STDs and safer sex after the discovery of HIV, the number of people infected with all STDs continues to grow.i
  50. Women who have sex with other women can still become infected with STDs and need to have yearly Pap smears as a screening test for cervical cancer.d
  51. Each year, 40,000 Americans are infected with the most serious STD, HIV/AIDS.e
  52. While most STDs can be accurately tested soon after exposure, HIV should be tested for most accurate results about six months after possible exposure.k
  53. public bathroom
    Sexually transmitted diseases cannot live long enough on a toilet seat to be transmittable
  54. STIs/STDs cannot be acquired in a swimming or public bathroom (unless you have sex in the pool or on the toilet). Most STIs/STDs are spread only through direct genital contact and begin to die immediately after they leave the infected person.k
  55. Chancroid (“soft chancre”) is highly contagious but usually curable STI/STD. Unlike a syphilis chancre that is hard or rubbery, a chancroid is soft to the touch. Ulcers are painful in men, but women may not be aware of them. Rare in the Western world, the disease can be easily confused with syphilis or herpes.i
  56. Nearly half of U.S. youths and adolescents are unaware of their HIV infection, and less than a quarter are tested for the virus.h
  57. The only STD that affects more men than women is syphilis.d
  58. The rate of chlamydia among black Americans was over eight times higher than that of whites in 2007. It was also substantially higher in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Hispanics than in whites.d
  59. Bathhouses, which were popular in the 1970s—and offered gay men a variety of partners and sex, with promiscuity the norm—became breeding grounds for HIV.a
  60. Digital-anal sex, in which one partner uses a finger to stimulate the other’s anus, can be a means of transmitting HIV.i
  61. The rate at which HIV becomes AIDS varies greatly among individuals. Some who contract HIV develop AIDS very soon after; in others, full-blown AIDS won’t develop for 10 or more years.k
  62. African-American children represent two thirds (65%) of all reported cases of pediatric AIDS.e
  63. People with an STD are more likely to become infected with HIV because they usually have genital ulcerations which provide an easy route for HIV to enter the blood stream.k
  64. four girls
    At least 1 in 4 teenage girls has at least one STI/STD
  65. One in four teen girls has a sexual disease, with HPV (human papillomavirus) by far being the most common.d
  66. HPV is believed to cause oral cancer in men at the same rate as tobacco and alchohol.d
  67. Some STDs (syphilis) can cross the placenta and infect a baby while in the uterus. Other STDs (gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, hepatitis B) can be transmitted from mother to baby during delivery through the birth canal. HIV can cross the placenta during pregnancy, infect the baby during the birth and, unlike most STDs, can also infect the baby through breastfeeding.j
  68. A pregnant woman with STDs may have an early onset of labor, premature rupture of membranes, uterine infections after delivery, or a still birth. The baby may suffer from low birth weight, eye infection (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, neonatal sepsis (blood infection), neurological damage, blindness, and liver disease.j
  69. The Pap test is named after the physician George Papanicolaou, who introduced this technique in 1949.i
  70. Researchers now can identify the DNA of many HPV strains, which can be used to confirm the presence of HPV types that are linked to cervical disease.g
  71. Common symptoms of STDs include burning or pain while urinating; any discharge from the opening of the penis; a change in a woman’s normal vaginal discharge or smell; sores, blisters, rashes, bums, swellings, or growths around the penis, vagina, or rectum; itching, burning, or pain around the penis, vagina, or anus; pain during sex; and pain in the lower abdomen.k
  72. One out of 20 people will become infected with hepatitis B (HBV) during their life. HBV is linked to chronic liver disease and liver cancer.k
  73. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and some types of HPV are the only vaccine-preventable STDs.k
  74. Though one in five Americans has genital herpes, nearly 90% are unaware they have it. Some estimates suggest that by 2025 up to 40% of all men and half of all women could be infected.k
  75. condom
    The correct use of a condom does not elimiate the risk of contracting an STI/STD
  76. A condom merely reduces—but does not eliminate—the risk of an STD.k
  77. In the beginning of the twentieth century, up to a third of all patients in mental asylums were thought to be suffering from tertiary syphilis.i
  78. Second to African-American women, Native American women are diagnosed with STIs/STDS at a higher rater than all other racial/ethnic groups.d
  79. Gonorrhea got its name in the year A.D. 131 from Galen, one of the greatest Greek physicians. Its name literally means “flow of seed” because Galen mistakenly thought the penile discharge was “seed” flowing out against its will.i
  80. Al Capone had syphilis and it may have driven him mad. Other notable people who most likely suffered from syphilis include Hernando Cortéz, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edourd Manet, Napoleon and, possibly, Franz Schubert.i
  81. Syphilis is named after a mythological Greek shepherd named Syphilus who was cursed with a horrible disease as a punishment for insulting the god Apollo.i
  82. Doctors in the late 1400s and early 1500s were so afraid of syphilis they would not write down its name. Instead they used the Greek letter Sigma as its symbol.a
  83. Italians and Germans call syphilis the “French Disease,” and the French call it “the Spanish Disease.”a
  84. Historians believe syphilis originated in the New World among the Native Americans in the Caribbean, and that Christopher Columbus may have been responsible for spreading syphilis to Europe.a
  85. During the first outbreak of syphilis in Europe, in the late fifteenth century, nearly 10 million Europeans died.a

-- Posted September 7, 2009

References

a Allen, Peter Lewis. 2000. The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

b Bowdler, Neil. “Key HIV Strain ‘Came for Haiti.’” BBCNews.com. October 30, 2007. Accessed: August 24, 2009.

cChild Rape Survivor Saves ‘Virgin Myth’ Victims.” CNN.com. June 5, 2009. Accessed: August 24, 2009.

d Egendorf, Laura, ed. 2007. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. New York, NY: Thompson Gale.

eHIV: Basic Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 26, 2009. Accessed: August 24, 2009.

f McCoy, Andrea J., et al. “1,1-Diaminopimelate Aminotransferase, A Trans-Kingdom Enzyme Shared by Chlamydia and Plants for Synthesis of Diaminopimelate/Lysine.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. November 8, 2006. Accessed: August 25, 2009.

g McNeil, Donald. “DNA Test Outperforms Pap Smear.” TheNewYorkTimes.com. April 2009. Accessed: August 23, 2009.

hOne in Two HIV-Positive Youth Unaware of Infection.” MSNBC.com. June 25, 2009. Accessed: August 24, 2009.

i Shoquist, Jennifer, M.D., and Diane Stafford. 2004. The Encyclopedia of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc.

jSTDs and Pregnancy—CDC Fact Sheet.” Center for Disease Control. January 4, 2008. Accessed: August 23, 2009.

k Sutton, Amy L., ed. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.

lYou’ve Got Mail—And Possibly an STD: Brazil Creates E-cards to Inform Partners of Infection.” LosAngelesTimes.com. August 21, 2009. Accessed: August 23, 2009.