STI Information and Testing
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Upholding the Dignity of Women through Authentic Healthcare

What is an STI?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that can be contracted by having sex (genital, oral or anal) with someone who already has an infection. Some STIs do not have any symptoms; therefore many individuals do not even know that they have a STI. About 19 million individuals per year contract a STI in the United States. If you are sexually active, it is important to get tested for STIs.

Common STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Genital Warts (HPV)
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Genital Herpes (HSV)

STI Risks and Effects

Some of the more common STIs include Chlamydia, Syphilis and Gonorrhea. These are bacterial infections and can be cured if detected and treated in time. Unfortunately they may go undetected because they often present with mild or no symptoms. STIs can cause serious, possibly permanent, problems for males and females. For instance, Syphilis, if untreated, may go into a dormant stage and may reappear months or years later to cause serious complications: blindness, bone and/or heart damage, insanity and possible death. If Gonorrhea and Chlamydia go untreated they may cause females to develop PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) which can result in chronic pain, pregnancy problems, sterility or death. In males, Chlamydia may cause permanent damage to the male urinary tract.

The other common STIs are viral and are incurable and present just as many problems. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) causes easily spread warts and possible genital cancers in both sexes. It is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. Genital Herpes presents as painful genital blisters and it can be transmitted even if the sore is not visible. Hepatitis B is an infectious viral liver disease which is more infectious than HIV and can cause liver cancer. Most carriers are not aware they are infected. Similarly HIV is very contagious and these carriers are often unaware of their disease. HIV can result in AIDS which can cause death.

It is especially important that STIs are properly diagnosed and treated during pregnancy as these infections can cause preterm delivery or other serious disease in the mother or the infant. Read more about STI and pregnancy here.


Symptoms of an STI

Some general symptoms of STIs include: any unusual discharge from the penis or vagina; burning discomfort when urinating or dark urine; warts, sores or growths in genital or rectal area; unexplained skin rashes or sores; yellow eyes or skin; fever; nausea and lower abdominal pain; joint pain and/or enlarged lymph nodes. This list is not complete but alerts you to some of the symptoms.

If you know or suspect you have had contact with someone with an STI – please obtain proper testing and follow-up treatment. Keep in mind that there are serious and long term effects of STIs such as: chronic pelvic pain, cervical cancer, tubal pregnancy, infertility, damage to body organs and death.

STIs can also affect you and your baby during pregnancy and you should seek medical advice and be honest with your health care provider.

Remember, many sexual partners are not honest about their sexual history, and the more sexual partners you have the greater the risk of becoming infected with a STI. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are “to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.”

At HMC, our mission includes empowering women (and their partners) with knowledge of the risks and consequences of the improper use of sexuality so they are better able to make informed decisions. No matter what choice is made, we are here to help in any way we can with screening, diagnosis, treatment of STIs as well as education regarding prevention of STIs.


How is an STI Screen and Test Done?

STI testing is done by first collecting a specimen (blood, cervical/vaginal secretions or urine). You and your doctor will decide which testing is needed based on your risk factors and symptoms. Then the doctor will send the specimen to the lab for testing. You will be told at the time of your visit when to expect the results. Once the doctor reviews your result, you will be contacted and given your results. You may be asked to return to our office for counseling or treatment. Rest assured that your health and your privacy are very important to us.

If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call 504.496.0214

REFERENCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of health and Human Services, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention, June 12-13, 2000, found here (a review of 138 scientific studies concerning condom effectiveness published July 20, 2001, accessed 1-12-07).
“The Silent Epidemic” Brochure,1994, California Nurses for Ethical Standards (revised 2006).
Centers for Disease Control, Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, www.cdc.gov (accessed 1-21-2009)