Learn About the Most Common STDs
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are an extremely prevalent problem. In fact, the CDC estimates that there are approximately 20 million new infections occurring every year. Lack of awareness of and regular testing for STDs are seen as important factors in the high incidence of these infections, with many affected individuals unaware of infection and unknowingly transmitting STDs to others.
STDs can affect anyone who is sexually active. Highest risk – accounting for about half of new infections annually – is among individuals age 24 or younger. For these reasons, the CDC recommends screening for certain STDs in sexually active individuals at least once a year. However, even for those who are tested regularly, knowing and watching for common STD symptoms between health screenings is very important to avoid long-term health risks and the possibility of spreading infection.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the U.S., with more than a million new cases each year.
It is a bacterial infection that occurs in both men and women, and can be cured with antibiotic medications. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause permanent damage to sexual organs, especially in females. The CDC recommends chlamydia screening in sexually active women younger than 25, and men who have sex with them.
Another bacterial infection, gonorrhea grows in the genital tract and is the second most frequently reported infectious disease. Without antibiotic therapy to clear the infection, this disease can eventually do permanent damage to the reproductive system, joints and heart. The CDC recommends annual gonorrhea screening in sexually active women younger than 25, and men who have sex with men.
Once nearly eradicated in the U.S., syphilis incidence is on the rise. A bacterial infection, syphilis can be cured with antibiotic therapy, and is particularly dangerous when left untreated, capable of damaging the brain, nerves, liver, eyes, blood vessels, heart, bones and joints. Early symptoms of the disease are mild and often go undetected. Annual Syphilis screening is recommended for men who have sex with men.
Genital herpes is a viral infection, spread through sexual contact. It is very contagious, and enters the body through small openings in the skin or mucous membranes. While the disease cannot be cured, antiviral medications can suppress outbreaks. Genital herpes typically causes small, red bumps, blisters or open sores in the genital or anal area.
Other STDs that all sexually active people should be aware of and screened for on a regular basis include hepatitis, trichomoniasis HIV, HPV and genital warts. Many STDs are easily treated and some can cause serious health effects if they are not. Unfortunately, STDs often go undetected for some time, since many present with very subtle symptoms or, in some individuals, no symptoms at all. Another issue that commonly leads to a failure to detect and treat STDs is the intimate nature of these conditions, with many who notice possible STD symptoms hesitant to bring their concerns to their regular health care provider due to embarrassment or fear of judgment.
However, there are confidential STD testing options. STD clinics offer discreet testing in many areas, or for a higher level of confidentiality, STD screening tests can be ordered directly through private medical testing services, such as Health Testing Centers. With Health Testing Centers, STD screening tests can be discreetly ordered online. Tests are conducted at one of over 1700 convenient LabCorp locations.
By Keith Kloss, Health Testing Centers