What are the different STIs?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a blood born virus that can damage the body's immune system making it difficult to fight off certain infections. It is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex with an HIV positive partner/sharing drug injecting equipment/mother to child during pregnancy, birth or breast feeding. There are not always symptoms. It can take up to 3 months from being infected with HIV for the virus to show on a test. There is no cure but drugs can slow the effects of the virus.
Syphilis is caused by a bacteria which if untreated can be very serious. It is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person. Mothers infected with syphilis can also transfer the infection to their children during pregnancy. You may not have any symptoms or you may have a painless sore, body rash or flu like symptoms. If not treated there could be damage to your brain, heart and other organs. It is treated with antibiotics and your partner should also be treated.
Hepatitis B infection is inflammation of the liver. It can cause long term liver damage that could lead to liver failure or liver cancer and therefore can be fatal. Some people have no symptoms and others can have jaundice (where the skin looks yellow), flu like symptoms or high fever. It is spread by unprotected sex with someone who has the virus or exposure to infected blood. It can be treated but sometimes it depends how serious the infection is.
Chlamydia is an infection which if left can stop women getting pregnant and cause chronic abdominal pains. Men can eventually have swelling of the testicles and research suggests Chlamydia may cause infertility in males. It is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex and can be passed on from an infected mother to her baby during birth. It can also be transmitted via fingers and sex toys.
Most people who have Chlamydia do not have any symptoms although some people can have pain when passing urine and increased discharge. Antibiotics can get rid of Chlamydia but both you and your partner need to be treated.
Gonorrhoea is a type of bacteria which lives in moist areas of the body such as the vagina, inside the penis, anus and throat. It is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person and can also be passed on the fingers from one person's penis/vagina to another. Mothers infected with Gonorrhoea can also transfer the infection to their baby during birth. Some people have no discharge but men can have discharge from the penis and women can have an increase in discharge too. If left untreated Gonorrhoea can lead to infertility. It is treated with antibiotics and your partner should also be treated to avoid re-infection.
Trichomonas is a tiny organism. It is a living organism which thrives in the vagina and penis. In women it can cause an unpleasant frothy yellow discharge and irritation of the vagina or sometimes no symptoms at all. Men do not usually have symptoms but they can have pain on passing urine. Trichomonas is treated with antibiotics and your partner should also be treated.
Candida (or thrush) is not a sexually transmitted infection it is a fungal infection. Men and women can develop it due to over washing, too much soap/shower gel, hot weather, tight underwear, diabetes, pregnancy and antibiotics. Some girls have no symptoms, others can have thick white discharge, itchy vagina and soreness. Men can experience sore skin on the penis, itchiness and redness. It is easily treated with cream or tablets taken by mouth or put into the vagina if symptoms are present.
Gardnerella is not a sexually transmitted infection. It affects women only and can sometimes not have any symptoms. It occurs due to a change in the normal bacteria and can have symptoms of increased vaginal discharge, soreness and bad vaginal odour. If symptoms are present it is treated with antibiotics.
Herpes is a viral infection which is only treated and tested when you have the symptoms of it. Cold sores can cause genital herpes through oral sex, or it can be passed on via vaginal and anal sex having had no genital sores. It can start with redness and tingling in the affected area. Medication can ease the symptoms but there is no cure. Further outbreaks can occur.
Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) of which there are many different types. They are passed through skin to skin contact and can occur years after sexual contact or they may never appear. Uncommon types are linked with cervical cancer so women are advised to attend for their regular smear tests and have the HPV vaccine if offered it. Genital warts are not harmful, more unsightly and can be treated with freezing or with cream, although the virus may remain on the skin.