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STD info

 

At GNR Health Departments, we strive to provide a safe place to talk about Sexual Health and Family Planning. When it comes to sexual health, we offer health screenings and tests to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD). STDs can be caused by bacteria, virus or parasite. Some of the reported STDS in our clinics include Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or HIV/AIDS. Scroll further to read more about specific STDs/STIs. Our staff is experienced in STD education and counseling and share their knowledge of some safe ways to prevent STDs. At the Health Department, you can feel comfortable to talk freely, ask as many questions as you want, and decrease your anxiety or fear about STDs. For more information on STD basics, keep reading!

How’s It transmitted?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact – such as heavy petting – and from sexual activity including vaginal, anal, and even oral sex. Many STDs, as well as other infections, can be spread through oral sex. The risk of getting an STD from oral sex, or spreading an STD to others through oral sex, depends on a number of things. Anyone exposed to an infected partner can get an STD in the mouth, throat, genitals, or rectum.

Prevention Methods

The only sure way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, there are other ways to reduce your risk of getting an STD. Using a condom, dental dam or other barrier method every time you have oral sex can reduce the risk of giving or getting an STD. If you are sexually active, know your STD status and know the STD status of your partner(s). Use latex condoms with sexual partners. If you suspect you or your partner might be at risk for an STD, please reach out to us and schedule an appointment.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome also known as HIV/AIDS AKA The Virus

What is it?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system. HIV is spread through sexual behaviors and sharing used needles or syringes. HIV mainly spreads by having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. In rare cases, HIV can be transmitted by oral sex, receiving blood transfusions, eating food that has been pre-chewed by HIV person (known cases only among infants), being bitten by a person with HIV, contact between broken skin and HIV infected blood, deep, open-mouth kissing if both partners have sore or bleeding gums.

How to Prevent It?

  • Take PrEP (specific to HIV only)
  • Use Condoms
  • If you are sexually active, know your STD status and know the STD status of your partner(s).

Chlamydia AKA Clam

What is it?

Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on and can cause fatal pregnancy complications.

How to Prevent It?

  • The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • If you are sexually active, know your STD status and know the STD status of your partner(s).
  • Use latex condoms

Gonorrhea AKA The Clap

What is it?

Gonorrhea is an STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can give the infection to her baby during childbirth.

How to Prevent It?

  • The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • If you are sexually active, know your STD status and know the STD status of your partner(s).
  • Use latex condoms

Syphilis AKA the Pox

What is it?

Syphilis is a STD that can have very serious complications when left untreated, but it is simple to cure with the right treatment. Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary), with different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. A person with primary syphilis generally has a sore or sores at the site of infection (can occur on or around genitals or in and around the mouth). Symptoms of secondary syphilis include skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. During the latent stage, there are no signs or symptoms. Tertiary syphilis is associated with severe medical problems.  A doctor can usually diagnose tertiary syphilis with the help of multiple tests. It can affect the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.

How to Prevent It?

  • The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • If you are sexually active, know your STD status and know the STD status of your partner(s).
  • Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.

*Condoms prevent transmission of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore. Sometimes sores occur in areas not covered by a condom. Contact with these sores can still transmit syphilis.

Who Can be affected by STD?

Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant can become infected with the same STDs as women who are not pregnant. Pregnancy does not provide women or their babies any additional protection against STDs. Many STDs are ”silent,“ or have no symptoms, so you may not know if you are infected. If you are pregnant, you should be tested for STDs, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), as a part of your medical care during pregnancy. The results of an STD can be more serious, even life-threatening, for you and your baby if you become infected while pregnant. It is important that you are aware of the harmful effects of STDs and how to protect yourself and your unborn baby against infection. Testing and treating pregnant women for STDs is a vital way to prevent serious health complications to both mother and baby that may otherwise happen with infection. The sooner you begin receiving medical care during pregnancy, the better the health outcomes will be for you and your unborn baby. HIV less commonly spread by from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Congenital syphilis (CS) is a disease that occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy. Recently, from 2012-2014, there has been a sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States. Protect your baby from congenital syphilis by getting tested for syphilis during your pregnancy. Your baby will not get CS if you do not have syphilis. There are two important things you can do to protect your baby from getting CS and the health problems associated with the infection.

  • Get a syphilis test at your first prenatal visit.
  • Reduce your risk of getting syphilis before and during your pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your risk for syphilis. Have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing. Your doctor can give you the best advice on any testing and treatment that you may need

Young Adults

STDs are common, especially among young people. There are about 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States. About half of these infections are in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Young people are at greater risk of getting an STD for several reasons.

  • Young women’s bodies are biologically more prone to STDs.
  • Some young people do not get the recommended STD tests.
  • Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives.
  • Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult for young people to access STD testing.
  • Some young people have more than one sex partner

Men Who Have Sex With Men

Most cases of syphilis in the United States are among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. (MSM), and syphilis has been increasing among MSM for more than a decade. If syphilis is not treated, it can cause serious health problems, including neuralgic (brain and nerve) problems, eye problems, and even blindness. In addition, syphilis is linked to an increased risk of transmission of HIV infection.

If you think you may be at risk for STDs/STIs, be sure to call our Health Departments at 770-339-4260. Visit our GNR webpage for STD/HIV counseling, testing, and screening information and our locations page to find the closest health department near you. We offer free HIV testing and affordable screenings.