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HIV and AIDS

What is HIV?

HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and affects men and women. The virus damages the body's immune system so that over time it becomes vulnerable to illness and infections.

 

What is AIDS?

AIDS is caused by HIV. When a person has AIDS it means their immune system is very weak and they have developed certain infections or cancers. These can be fatal.

 

How is it passed on?

HIV is mainly passed on in the following ways:

 

By unprotected vaginal or anal sex, and to a lesser extent through oral sex and sharing of sex toys.

By sharing needles or syringes when injecting drugs.

A pregnant woman with HIV can pass it on to her baby during birth, although there is now a very effective treatment to help prevent this.

HIV can also be passed on through breastfeeding.

Signs and symptoms

 

A flu-like illness may occur shortly after getting infected with HIV, but most people don't notice they have become infected.

Symptoms vary from person to person and occur when the immune system is so damaged that other infections begin to cause health problems.

Tests and treatment

 

The only way to establish if a person has the virus is for them to have an HIV test.

After a discussion about the test and the consequences of the result, a sample of blood will be taken and tested. It is necessary to wait three months after infection might have occurred before doing the HIV test.

There is no cure for HIV. However, drugs are available to slow down the damage that HIV does to the immune system. People who are HIV positive can now stay healthy for many years with anti-HIV drugs.

 

 

 

 

Syphilis

(Image Below)


Syphilis is not a common infection in the UK but is more common in some
other countries. It is a bacterial infection. It is usually sexually
transmitted, but may also be passed from an infected mother to her
unborn child.

Signs and symptoms


The signs and symptoms are the same in both men and women. They can be
difficult to recognise and may take up to 3 months to show after having
sexual contact with an infected person. Syphilis has several stages. The
primary and secondary stages are very infectious.

Primary stage


One or more painless sores appear at the place where the bacteria
entered the body. On average, this will be after 21 days. You may not
notice them.

These sores can appear anywhere on the body but mainly:

on the vulva (lips of the vagina), the clitoris and around the opening
of the urethra (the water passage)
on the cervix (neck of the womb) in men and women and on the penis and
foreskin in men
around the anus and mouth (both sexes)
The sore (or sores) is very infectious and may take from 2 to 6 weeks to
heal.


Secondary stage


If the infection remains untreated the secondary stage usually occurs
3-6 weeks after the appearance of sores. The symptoms include:

a non itchy rash covering the whole body or appearing in patches
flat, warty-looking growths on the vulva and in women and around the
anus in both sexes
a flu-like illness, a feeling of tiredness and loss of appetite,
accompanied by swollen glands (this can last for weeks or months)
white patches on the tongue or roof of the mouth
patchy hair loss
When these symptoms are present syphilis is very infectious and may be
sexually transmitted to a partner.

Treatment at any time during these first two stages of syphilis will
cure the infection.


Latent stage


Latent syphilis refers to the presence of untreated syphilis. You can
have no symptoms or signs of the infection, which is diagnosed by a
positive blood test. If left untreated, you may develop symptomatic late
syphilis. This would usually develop after more than 10 years. It is
then that syphilis can affect the heart, and possibly the nervous
system.

If treatment is given during the late stage the infection can be cured.
However, if there has been heart or nervous-system damage before
treatment is started this may be irreversible.

How syphilis is passed on


Syphilis can be transmitted by:

having sex with someone who has the infection
a mother to her unborn baby


Where to go for help


Your local NHS sexual health (GUM) clinic. You can find details of your
nearest NHS sexual health clinic in the phone book under genito-urinary
medicine (GUM), sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases
(VD). Or phone your local hospital and ask for the 'special' or GUM
clinic. You will get free confidential advice and treatment. You can go
to any clinic anywhere in the country - you don't have to go go to a
local one - and you don't have to be referred by your GP. (Non-NHS
sexual health clinics may not always offer the full range of services
which are available at NHS sexual health clinics.)
Your own GP.
The tests for syphilis
At the clinic the following tests will normally be made:

A blood sample is taken.
If you have a sore, a specimen of fluid is taken from this and looked at
under a microscope.
Your genital area and whole body are examined by the doctor.
Samples are taken, using a cotton-wool or spongy swab, from any sores.
Women are given an internal examination.
A sample is taken.
None of these tests should be painful, but they may be slightly
uncomfortable.

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Chlamydia

 

Chlamydia is the most common treatable bacterial sexually transmitted infection. It can cause serious problems later in life if it is not treated (see 'Complications' section). Chlamydia infects the cervix in women. The urethra, rectum and eyes can be infected in both sexes. Occasionally Chlamydia lives in other parts of the body, including the throat, lungs and liver.

 

Signs and symptoms - women

 

The majority of women who are infected with Chlamydia will have no symptoms at all. Possible symptoms are:

    * a slight increase in vaginal discharge - caused by the cervix becoming inflamed
    * a need to pass urine more often/pain on passing urine
    * lower abdominal pain
    * pain during sex
    * irregular menstrual bleeding
    * a painful swelling and irritation in the eyes (if they are infected)

 

Signs and symptoms - men

 

Men are more likely to notice symptoms than women. However, they too may have no symptoms. Likely symptoms are:

    * a discharge from the penis which may be white/cloudy and watery and stain underwear
    * pain and/or a burning sensation when passing urine
    * a painful swelling and irritation in the eyes (if they are infected)

Chlamydia in the rectum rarely causes symptoms.


How Chlamydia is passed on

 

Chlamydia can be transmitted by:

    * having sex with someone who is infected
    * a mother to her baby at birth
    * occasionally, by transferring the infection on fingers from the genitals to the eyes

 

http://shag.dsu.org.uk/sti/chlamydia.php

 

 

 

 

Gonorrhoea

 

 

Signs and symptoms

 

It is possible to be infected with gonorrhoea and have no symptoms. Men are far more likely to notice symptoms than women.

In women

    * a change in vaginal discharge. This may increase, change to a yellow or greenish colour and develop a strong smell

    * a pain or burning sensation when passing urine
    * irritation and/or discharge from the anus

In men

Symptoms can include:

    * a yellow or white discharge from the penis
    * irritation and/or discharge from the anus
    * inflammation of the testicles and prostate gland

 

How gonorrohea is passed on

 

    * by penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina, mouth or anus)

and less often by:

    * rimming (where a person uses their mouth to stimulate another person's anus)
    * inserting your fingers into an infected vagina, anus or mouth and then putting them into your own without washing your hands in between

 

Where to go for help

 

    * Your local NHS sexual health (GUM) clinic. You can find details of your nearest NHS sexual health clinic in the phone book under genito-urinary medicine (GUM), sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases (VD). Or phone your local hospital and ask for the "special" or GUM clinic. You will get free confidential advise and treatment. You can go to any clinic anywhere in the country-you don't have to go to go to a local one-and you don't have to be referred by your GP. (Non-NHS sexual health clinics may not always offer the full range of services which are available at NHS sexual health clinics.)

    * Your own GP.

 

The tests for gonorrohea

 

    * An examination of your genital area is carried out by a doctor or nurse.
    * Samples are taken, using a cotton-wool or spongy swab, from any places which may be infected - the cervix, urethra, anus or throat.

    * Women are given an internal pelvic examination.
    * A sample of urine may be taken.

None of these tests are painful, but may sometimes be uncomfortable.

If you have had anal sex, it is important to tell the doctor so that a swab can be taken from your rectum. Also tell the doctor if you have had oral sex.

 

Diagnosis and treatment

 

Samples taken during the examination are looked at under a microscope to check for infection. In some clinics, the result is available immediately. A second sample is sent to a laboratory for testing, the result of which is available usually within one week.

Treatment is easy and essential. You will be given an antibiotic in tablet, liquid or injection form.

If you are allergic to any antibiotics, or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant, it is important that you tell your doctor. It is important to complete your course of treatment.

If you are told you have gonorrohea, you may be asked to see a health adviser who will explain the infection to you and answer your questions. The health advisor will also ask you about your sexual partners(s), so that they can get a check-up and treatment if necessary.

You should not have penetrative sex until you have returned to the clinic and been given the all-clear by the doctor. The doctor or health adviser will tell you about which sexual activities are safe.

 

Follow up

 

Once you have completed your course of treatment you should return to the clinic or GP for a check-up. Some types of gonorrhoea are resistant to certain antibiotics, especially if you acquired the disease abroad. Further tests will be done to make sure that the infection has cleared. If it has not, you will be prescribed a different antibiotic.

http://shag.dsu.org.uk/sti/gonorrhoea.php

 

 

Genital Herpes (HSV)

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus can affect the mouth, the genital area, the skin around the anus and the fingers. Once the first breakout of herpes is over, the virus hides away in the nerve fibres, where it remains totally undetected and causes no symptoms. However, in some people, it may come back (recur) on the skin surface, at or near the place where it was caught. This may be when the person is ill or run down. Some people never get another outbreak.

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Both men and women may have one or more symptoms, including:

    * an itching or tingling sensation in the genital or anal area
    * small fluid-filled blisters. These burst and leave small sores which can be very painful. In time they dry out, scab over and heal. With the first infection they can take between 2 and 4 weeks to heal properly

    * pain when passing urine, if it passes over any of the open sores
    * a flu-like illness, backache, headache, swollen glands or fever

At this time the virus is highly infectious.

Herpes is passed on through skin contact with an infected person. The virus affects the areas where it enters the body. This can be by:

    * kissing (mouth to mouth)
    * penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina, mouth or anus)
    * oral sex (from the mouth to the genitals)

For more information see http://shag.dsu.org.uk/sti/herpes.php

 

 

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