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Frequently Asked Questions About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

What are some of the sexually transmitted diseases and what are their symptoms?

HIV/AIDS: Symptoms include long lasting infections, diarrhea, night sweats, fever, weight loss, swollen glands, coughing and shortness of breath. Some of the effects on your health are immune system damage leading to cancer, pneumonia, brain damage and death.

Chlamydia: Symptoms include itching or burning during urination, vaginal discharge, white discharge from penis, pelvic pain, or no symptoms at all. Some of the effects on your health are pelvic inflammatory disease, epididymitis, and sterility. Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics.

Genital Herpes: Symptoms include sores on penis or vagina, vaginal discharge, fever, tiredness, itching, and aches and pains. The first attack is quite painful, recurrent flare ups are less painful. Reoccurring flare ups may occur 4-7 times a year. The symptoms can be treated but there is not a cure for Genital Herpes.

Gonorrhea: Symptoms include vaginal or penile discharge and burning during urination. At times you may not experience any symptoms at all. Some of the effects on your health include pelvic inflammatory disease, epididymitis, infertility and arthritis. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics.

Syphilis: Symptoms include sore on penis or vagina, mouth, anus or elsewhere, low fever, sore throat and other sores or rashes. If left untreated some of the effects on your health are damage to the heart, blood vessels and nervous system, blindness, deafness, insanity and death. Syphilis can be treated with medications.

Genital Warts: Symptoms include genital itching, irritation or bleeding. Warts may appear as small cauliflower shaped clusters. If left untreated, warts may grow in size and number and in females may increase the risk of cervical cancer. Genital Warts can be treated (but not cured) with medications applied directly to them or with surgery to remove them.

How soon after exposure can I be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and at what point can they be detected?

Testing is based upon how long it takes to get a disease after being exposed. For gonorrhea it is four days, chlamydia is seven days, and syphilis is about three weeks. However, if someone has a verified exposure, they will be treated if they come into the clinic within these periods.

What is NGU?

Urethritis is an infection in the tube of the penis. Many different germs passed during sex (including oral and rectal) can cause Urethritis. Major causes are gonorrhea or chlamydia. If no gonorrhea is found, the infection is called Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU).

What is Trichomoniasis?

In a woman a Trichomoniasis (trich) infection occurs in the vagina. It often causes itching, burning and a heavy discharge. The Trichomonas germ passes between men and women during sex. Most men who carry the Trichomonas germ have no symptoms, and the only way he will find out if he has the germ is if his female sex partner tells him. A woman can be infected again if her sex partner(s) are not treated.

What sexually transmitted diseases does the Oakland County Health Division test for and treat?

Oakland County can test for and treat gonorrhea, chlamydia, NGU, syphilis and trichomoniasis. Testing is available for HIV infections (AIDS) and referrals may be given for treatment. All other suspected conditions will be referred to private providers.

What can I do to protect myself against sexually transmitted diseases?

Know the common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. These are: a sore, discharge (dripping), burning, rash, severe itch, pain or swollen glands around the sex organs. Later: loss of hair or abdominal (stomach) pains.

  • Do not have sex with someone if you or they have these symptoms.
  • Come to the clinic or see your private provider right away if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners.
  • Have your partner(s) use condoms (rubbers) when you have sex.
  • Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are hightly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases.