HIV/STDs

Contact us for HIV and STD information or testing appointments: (619) 662-4161

WHAT IS HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection.

No cure currently exists, but with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken the right way, every day, this medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV, keep them healthy, and greatly lower their chance of infecting others.

To understand more about how HIV is transmitted and how it affects the body, watch this video:

For HIV testing information, click here.

WHAT ARE STD’S?

A sexually transmitted disease is an infection that is transferred from one person to the other through sexual intercourse. Sometimes these infections can be transmitted nonsexually, such as from mother to infant during pregnancy or childbirth, or through blood transfusions or shared needles. It is also very important to note that while most people show symptoms for STDs, many individuals do not display symptoms with certain STD’s which is why it is important to regularly get tested. Even when no symptoms are present, complications can arise if an STD/STI is left untreated. Serious health risks can occur, including PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), infertility, organ damage and, if left untreated long enough, death.

STD’s are generally divided into two groups: bacterial and viral STD’s. STDs caused by bacteria can be treated and cured with antibiotics while viral STDs cannot be cured but can be treated. Some bacterial STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis and viral STDs include HIV, Herpes, and HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus. 

Here is a brief overview of each STD as well as a link for a fact sheet with more detailed information for each STD:

CHLAMYDIA

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms show up 7-28 days after having sex
  • Most women and some men do not show symptoms
  • Watery, white drip from the penis and discharge from the vagina.
  • Burning or pain when urinating.
  • Need to urinate more often.
  • Pain in abdomen, sometimes with fever and nausea.
    Swollen or tender testicles.

How it is transmitted:

  • Spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia.

If left untreated:

  • Can lead to more serious infection and can cause damage in reproductive organs.
  • Woman and possibly men may no longer be able to have children.
  • A mother with chlamydia can give it to her baby during childbirth.

More info: download PDF

GONORRHEA

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms show up 2-21 days after having sex.
  • Many women and men do not have symptoms.
  • Thick yellow or greenish discharge from the vagina or penis.
  • Burning or pain when urinating.
  • Need to urinate more often.
  • Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen for women.
  • Swollen or tender testicles in men.

How it is transmitted:

  • Spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea.

If left untreated:

  • Can lead to more serious infection and can cause damage in reproductive organs.
  • Woman and possibly men may no longer be able to have children.
  • A mother with chlamydia can give it to her baby during childbirth.

More info: download PDF

SYPHILIS

1st Stage:

  • Symptoms show up 1-12 weeks after having sex.
  • A painless sore or sores on the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth.
  • Sore goes away without treatment, but you will still have syphilis.

2nd Stage:

  • Symptoms show up after the sores or chancres heal.
  • A rash all over the body.
  • Flu-like feelings.
  • Rash and flu-like symptoms will go away without treatment but syphilis will remain.

3rd Stage:

  • Most serious stage.
  • Vision changes, including blindness
  • Altered behavior, paralysis, sensory deficits, and dementia.
  • Stroke
  • Death
  • Spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex and also by touching genitals with open wounds or chancres of someone who has syphilis.
  • The symptoms from the first two stages of syphilis will go away on their own without treatment, but the syphilis will then just move onto the third stage.
  • Blindness, serious mental disorders, heart disease, and also death can occur if syphilis is left untreated.

More info: download PDF

HERPES

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms show up 1-30 days or longer after having sex.
  • Many people have no symptoms.
  • Small, painful blisters on the genitals or mouth.
  • Itching or burning before the blisters appear.
  • Blisters last 1-3 weeks.
  • Blisters go away, but you will still have herpes. Blisters can come back.

How it is transmitted:

  • Spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and sometimes by touching the genitals of someone who has herpes.

If left untreated:

  • Herpes cannot be cured, but medicine can control it and limit the amount of outbreaks.

More info: download PDF

HPV (HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS) OR GENITAL WARTS

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms show up weeks, months, or even years after contact with HPV.
  • Many people have no symptoms
    Some HPV strains cause genital warts:
  • Small, bumpy warts on the genitals or anus.
  • Itching or burning around the genitals.
  • After warts go away, the virus will sometimes stay in the body. The warts can come back.
    Some HPV strains can cause cervical cancer in women:
  • Cell changes on the cervix can only be detected by a Pap test from a health care provider.
  • The vaccine Gardasil protects women from the HPV strains that lead to cervical cancer.

How it is transmitted:

  • Spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex and sometimes by touching the genital warts of someone who has HPV.

If left untreated:

  • Most HPV goes away on its own in about 2 years.
  • Warts may go away on their own, remain unchanged, or grow and spread.
  • A mother with warts can give them to her baby during childbirth.
  • Some strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer if not found and treated.

More info: download PDF

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