One in five people in the US has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There were 68 million infections reported in 2018. STIs are a very common public health concern so raising awareness of prevention is important. Populations who have a higher risk of STIs include teens and men who have sex with men (MSM). Half of newly reported STIs are among people aged 15-24. There is a higher risk of HIV and syphilis among MSM.
What are sexually transmitted infections?
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are infections that are passed from one person to another through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Not everyone experiences symptoms from an STI and some only experience mild symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. Therefore, if you are having sex, you should be tested for STIs. STIs are preventable so protecting yourself and your partner is important.
– Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal problem for women. Although it is not transmitted sexually, it increases the risk of contracting an STI.
– Chlamydia is a common STI that is treatable with oral medication but if left untreated can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
– Gonorrhea is a common STI that is treatable with a single dose intramuscular injection of an antibiotic and oral medication if chlamydia is present. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious health problems.
– Genital herpes is a common STI, and many people are unaware that they have it. Although there is no cure for genital herpes, there are medications available to prevent and shorten an outbreak. The medications also help decrease the risk of transmitting the infection to others.
– Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common STI, and most people have no symptoms. However, HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. HPV is preventable with vaccines.
– Trichomoniasis is a common STI that is treatable with oral medication. Most people with trichomoniasis have no symptoms.
– Syphilis is an STI that is very treatable however if left untreated can cause very serious health problems.
– Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a serious condition caused by untreated STIs. PID increases the risk of a woman having difficulty getting pregnant.
– Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an STI that weakens a person’s immune system and destroys cells that help fight disease and infection. Although there is no cure for HIV with medication and proper medical care it can be controlled. If you have other STI’s it increases your risk of HIV.
– Viral hepatitis is an STI that causes inflammation in the liver. The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C.
STIs and pregnancy
Pregnant women have the same risk of contracting an STI as women who are not pregnant so it is important to be tested. STIs during pregnancy can cause complications during pregnancy and serious effects on both the woman and the baby.
How do I prevent an STI?
– Do not have sex (abstinence)
– Use condoms
– Reduce the number of sexual partners
– Be sexually active with only one person
– Vaccinations for hepatitis B and HPV
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have not been tested for sexually transmitted infections recently, if you are experiencing any symptoms, or if you have a new sexual partner. Fayette County Public Health offers STI testing through the Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic.
Source: CDC, 2022
Darci Moore, CNP, is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at Fayette County Public Health. Darci sees patients through the FCPH Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic with late hours available to meet the needs of patients. Call the office today if you would like to schedule an appointment (740-335-5910).