What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are caused by infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual contact. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites, yeast, and viruses.
Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.
Antibiotics can treat STDs caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasites. There is no cure for STDs caused by a virus, but medicines can often help with the symptoms and keep the disease under control.
Here are some of the most common and well known STDs:
- Genital Herpes.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Bacterial Vaginosis.
What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV.
There are two types of HIV:
- HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide
- HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness.
HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. You can get HIV from contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
- Most people get the virus by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
- Another common way of getting it is by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
- The virus can also be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
HIV doesn’t survive well outside the body. So it can’t be spread by casual contact like kissing or sharing drinking glasses with an infected person.(WebMD)
Why does having an STD put me more at risk for getting HIV?
If you get an STD you are more likely to get HIV than someone who is STD-free. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for getting an STD can also put you at greater risk for getting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STD may allow HIV to more easily enter your body.
What can I do to prevent getting STDs and HIV?
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting STDs and HIV:
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors
- Use condoms consistently and correctly;
- Reduce the number of people with whom you have sex;
- Limit or eliminate drug and alcohol use before and during sex;
- Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs and HIV;
- Talk to your healthcare provider and find out if pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a good option for you to prevent HIV infection. (WebMD)
If you are HIV-positive (infected with HIV) or have engaged in sex or needle-sharing with someone who could be infected with HIV, take precautions to prevent spreading the infection to others.
- Take antiretroviral medicines. Getting treated for HIV can help prevent the spread of HIV to people who are not infected.
- Tell your sex partner or partners about your behavior and whether you are HIV-positive.
- Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs, or body tissues.
- Do not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys that may be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.