Brief STI Info

Chlamydia

What is it?

Bacterial infection affecting the inside lining of the genitals. Can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women and infertility in men and women.

How you get it

By having vaginal or anal sex without a condom with someone who has the infection.

Symptoms

Women often have no symptoms or may have pain with sexual intercourse, lower abdominal pain, changes in vaginal bleeding pattern.

Men may have no symptoms or may have discharge from their penis and/or pain whilst passing urine.

Treatment

Antibiotics

Partners

Recent sexual partners need treatment. Don't have sex until 7 days after starting treatment and until sexual contacts have been treated.

 

Gonorrhoea

What is it?

Bacterial infection of genitals, throat or anus, can lead to infertility particularly  in women.

How you get it

By having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom with someone who has the infection.

Symptoms

Women usually have no symptoms, but may have pain with sex, vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain.

Men may have no symptoms or discharge from penis, discharge from anus, pain in testicles, pain on urinating.

Treatment

Antibiotics

Partners

Sexual partners must be tested and treated if positive. Avoid sex until 7 days after treatment is completed. Condoms provide some protection, but not total.

 

Syphilis

What is it?

Bacterial infection entering the body through breaks in skin or linings of the genital area; over time, goes on to damage internal organs (heart, brain, spinal cord)

How you get it

By having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom with someone who has the infection.

Symptoms

Painless ulcer (chancre) usually on genitals;  later swollen glands, rash, hair loss.

Treatment

Antibiotics with follow-up blood tests.

Partners

Sexual partners must be tested and treated if positive. Current health regulations advise no sex until you are cleared.

 

Genital Herpes

What is it?

Herpes simplex virus causes skin infection usually on mouth and lips (cold sores) or on genitals. 

How you get it

Close skin contact with someone with the virus.

Symptoms

Painful, red blisters, little sores or ulcers, flu-like symptoms, and sometimes a discharge.

Treatment

Anti-herpes drugs and pain relief can be given to treat symptoms, but the infection cannot be cured. Some may need medication to prevent further outbreaks.

Partners

Partners may or may not catch herpes. Do not have sex when open sores are present. Condoms provide some, but not complete, protection.

 

Non-specific Urethritis (NSU)

What is it?

Infections that cause inflammation of the urethra.

How you get it

Can be caused by chlamydia or by bacteria, viruses or other organisms.

Symptoms

Women usually have no symptoms. Men have discharge from the penis, pain on urinating, but sometimes there are no symptoms.

Treatment

Antibiotics.

Partners

Partners need to be examined and treated.

 

Trichomoniasis

What is it?

Trichomonas vaginalis, a small parasitic organism, causes irritation in the vagina in women and can cause an irritation inside the penis in men.

How you get it

During sexual intercourse with an infected person.

Symptoms

Women may have no symptoms, but there may be a yellowy-green frothy vaginal discharge. Men usually have no symptoms.

Treatment

Antibiotic tablets and/or vaginal pessaries.

Partners

Treat with antibiotics to avoid re-infection.  Don't have sex until 7 days after starting treatment and until sexual contacts have been treated.

 

Genital Warts

What is it?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes fleshy or flat lumps – may be present even if not visible

How you get it

HPV transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, usually during sex; from mother-to-baby. Sometimes no identifiable source of transmission.

Symptoms

Fleshy or flat lumps on or around genitals, anus, groin or thigh. 

Treatment

Visible warts can be treated, but the infection cannot be cured. Discuss vaccination with your health professional.

Partners

Condoms provide some protection, but not total

 

HIV

What is it?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the white blood cells and causes damage to the immune system so that it can be difficult to fight off infections.

How you get it

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal fluids, sharing needles and from mother-to-baby. Blood transfusion in countries that do not pre-test blood for transfusion.

Symptoms

Usually no obvious symptoms for many years.

Treatment

No immunisation or cure available although some secondary infections can be treated or prevented. Keeping well for longer is possible with good care. Women with HIV/AIDS need a cervical smear yearly.

Partners

Practice safer sex to prevent transmission. Partners should ask for an HIV test.

 

Hepatitis A

What is it?

Viral infection which affects the liver.

How you get it

Mainly through contaminated food or water or not hand-washing after toilet, before food etc. Can be through anal sex and oral-to-anal contact (rimming).  

Symptoms

Often no symptoms, or may have mild flu-like illness, or vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Treatment

Immunisation for prevention. Good hygiene and hand-washing. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Eat a well-balanced low-fat diet.

Partners

Immunisation for prevention and avoid anal sexual practices until recovered.

 

Hepatitis B

What is it?

Viral infection which affects the liver.

How you get it

By having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom with someone who has the infection; form mother-to-baby. By sharing needles, syringes, toothbrushes, razors and unsterilized instruments that pierce the skin. Blood transfusion in countries that do not pre-test blood for transfusion.

Symptoms

May have no symptoms or mild flu-like illness or vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Treatment

Rest, exercise and avoid alcohol, drugs and smoking. Eat a well-balanced low-fat diet. Check any prescribed or over-the-counter medicines are safe to take.

Partners

Always use a condom if partner is not immunised. Protection is offered to babies on the immunisation schedule and to children under 16 years. 

 

Hepatitis C

What is it?

Viral infection which affects the liver.

How you get it

After contact with infected blood or by sharing needles or syringes or possibly through sexual contact. Blood transfusion in countries that doe no pre-test blood for transfusion.

Symptoms

Often no symptoms or may have mild, flu-like illness or vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Treatment

Rest, exercise and avoid alcohol, drugs and smoking. Eat a well-balanced low-fat diet.

Partners

Sexual and needle-sharing partners can have a blood test to check for Hep C antibodies.