STIs

AIDS and HIV | Chlamydia | Genital Warts | Herpes | Gonorrhoea | Syphilis | Pubic Lice | Trichomoniasis | Hepatitis B

Following is a rundown on unsexy STIs. Remember - the only way to avoid them is to practice safer sex and wear a condom at all times.

AIDS and HIV

What Is it?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which damages the body's immune system. HIV can be passed on by having sex without a condom with someone who has HIV. HIV is only passed on through bodily fluids and blood, for example through sex, injecting drugs or from mothers to their unborn children. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) itself is a disease that usually occurs several years after getting HIV, with a whole range of different symptoms.

How can I tell if I've got it?

You can't. The only way to then tell if you have HIV is to have a blood test, which can be done confidentially.

What will clear it up?

At present there is no cure for HIV or AIDS but new combination therapies mean improved management of the illness.

Chlamydia

What is it?

This is the most common STI among young guys and girls in Australia. It's caused by a bacteria which, if left untreated, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (a disease which infects your pelvic region and can lead to infertility in women and men).

How can I tell if I've got it?

In 15 - 20% of cases there will be symptoms five to ten days after infection (look for a discharge and pain). However, MOST people do not get any symptoms. So wear a condom to avoid it!

What will clear it up?

Antibiotics after a simple chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic.

Where can I find out more info?

Check out The C Project website - http://www.thecproject.com/ - and see for yourself all you need to know about chlamydia and how to avoid it.

Genital warts

What are they?

Genital warts are small fleshy lumps (like the warts you can get on your hands). They appear around your genitals and are caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV).

How can I tell if I've got them?

The big problem with warts is that there are often no symptoms, or the warts develop inside the vagina (usually on the cervix) so you can't see them. If they do appear they may itch but are usually painless.

What will clear them up?

If you have been infected the good news is that in many cases the body's immune system will cause most warts to disappear without treatment after 6 months. Though large visible warts need to be treated. You will be given a special lotion which you will be asked to apply to the warts. If this doesn’t clear them up or they are in a tricky place, stronger lotions may be used. Occasionally, warts may be frozen or burned off and this is not usually painful.

Herpes

What is it?

There are two types of herpes which cause small, painful blisters. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1 which usually causes cold sores and HSV Type II which causes genital sores.

HSV Type I is usually located around the mouth and is passed by kissing.

HSV Type II is usually in the genital area and passed through sex.

How can I tell if I've got it?

Some people don’t notice symptoms but look for small, painful clusters of sores.

What will clear it up?

Once you have the herpes virus it will always remain in your body but it won't always be active. Not everyone experiences symptoms but for those that do, these may reoccur from time to time. However, there are a number of treatments available.

How is it diagnosed?

A sample may be taken for testing or a doctor may know just by looking. Remember, herpes is highly infectious and during an outbreak you should avoid sex and kissing (if you have cold sores). Outbreaks are treated with medication.

Gonorrhoea

What is it?

Gonorrhoea is a disease caused by a bacteria. The danger of this is, if left undiagnosed, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

How can I tell if I've got it?

In five out of every six cases, there are no symptoms. Symptoms to look for are a discharge and a burning sensation when going for a wee.

What will clear it up?

Antibiotics.

Syphilis

What is it?

An infection caused by a bacteria which, left untreated, can have very serious consequences.

How can I tell if I've got it?

A sore on your genitals, and a rash. If left untreated the symptoms become severe.

What will clear it up?

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.

Pubic Lice

What is it?

Also known as crabs, pubic lice are small insects that are spread through sex and intimate contact (bedding, towels etc).

How can I tell if I've got it?

You'll have severe itching throughout your pubic region.

What will clear it up?

Usually a doctor will be able to tell if you have pubic lice and will prescribe a lotion to kill them off.

Trichomoniasis

What is it?

This is an infection which affects the vagina, cervix, urethra and bladder.

How can I tell if I've got it?

Look for a greenish-yellow discharge with a strong and offensive smell, itching of the vagina and a burning when going for a pee. Boys/men have no symptoms.

What will clear it up?

A swab will be taken and antibacterial drugs prescribed.

Hepatitis B

What is it?

This is a serious condition that causes inflammation of the liver caused by a virus passed on through vaginal or anal intercourse.

How can I tell if I've got it?

Usually there are no symptoms but look for unusual tiredness.

What will clear it up?

There is no effective cure, but it some cases your body fights off the virus and the infection goes away.

More Information

For more information on STIs visit our new website www.lovebugs.com.au

Contraception Information WebsiteDesigned to answer all of your questions sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and infections of the reproductive systems.