STD/STI Facts from LA HIV/STD Program

From the Louisiana State HIV/STD Program

Chlamydia

  • Can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • known as a “silent” STD because about three quarters of infected women and about half of infected men have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.
  • In females:

  • Vaginal discharge
    Pain when passing water
    Bleeding between periods
    Bleeding after sex
    Abdominal pain
    Anal pain, discharge, bleeding (anal sex)
    Sore throat (oral sex)

  • In males:

  • A discharge from the penis
    A burning sensation or pain when passing urine
    Anal pain, discharge, bleeding (anal sex)
    Sore throat (oral sex)

  • Treatable with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea

  • spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired.
  • Symptoms:

  • Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. Some have a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles.

    Most women who are infected with gonorrhea have no symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms MAY include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods.

    Both men and women may have anal discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat, but usually causes no symptoms.

  • Treatable with antibiotics.

Syphilis

  • Passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, penis, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Many of these sores are unrecognized, and transmission may occur from persons who are unaware they have syphilis.
  • Symptoms

  • Many people infected with syphilis do not have any symptoms for years.

    Primary Syphilis: red, firm, and sometimes wet sores that don’t hurt appear on the vagina, rectum, penis, or mouth. There is often just one sore (chancre), but there may be several. Someone with syphilis may also have swollen glands during this first stage. After a few weeks, the sore will disappear.

    Syphilis is highly contagious during this first stage. Unfortunately, it can be easy to miss because the chancres are painless and can appear in areas that may not be easy to see, like in the mouth, under the foreskin, or on the anus. This means that people may not know that they are infected, and can pass the disease on to others without realizing it.

    Secondary Syphilis: rash (especially on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands) and may also notice flu-like symptoms, such as fever and achiness. Sometimes the rashes associated with syphilis can be very faint or look like rashes from other infections and, therefore, may not be noticed. Sores sometimes appear on the lips, mouth, throat, vagina, and anus – but many people with secondary syphilis don’t have sores at all.

    Latent (hidden) Syphilis: All the signs of the disease go away, but the disease is still very much there. Syphilis can remain latent for many years.

    Tertiary Syphilis: Symptoms of late syphilis can include difficulty walking, numbness, gradual blindness, and possibly even death.

  • Treatable with antibiotics; the sooner the better.

Herpes

  • Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex viruses, either type 1 (Herpes-1) or type 2 (Herpes-2). Most genital herpes is caused by Herpes 2.
  • Most individuals have no or only minimal symptoms from Herpes-1 or Herpes-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal.
  • HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses cause, but they also are released between outbreaks from skin that does not appear to have a sore. Transmission can occur from an infected partner who does NOT have a visible sore and may not know that he or she is infected along with skin-to-skin contact.
  • Symptoms
  • Most people infected with Herpes-2 are not aware of their infection. However, if signs and symptoms occur during the first outbreak, they can be quite severe. The first outbreak usually occurs within two weeks after the virus is transmitted, and the sores usually heal within two to four weeks. Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may include a second set of sores, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. However, most individuals with HSV-2 infection never have sores, or they have very mild signs that they do not even notice or that they mistake for insect bites or another skin condition.

  • There is no cure, but anti-viral antibiotics that can be used to control a flare up.