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HIV and STDs.

  • What is an STD?

  • What is the connection between HIV and other STDs?

  • How can I reduce my risk of getting an STD?

  • What are the symptoms of STDs?

  • What is the treatment for STDs?

What is an STD?

STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. Sometimes STDs are called sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STDs are infections that spread from person to person through sexual activity, including anal, vaginal, or oral sex. STDs are caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

HIV is an STD. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and syphilis are examples of other STDs.


What is the connection between HIV and other STDs?

Behaviors that put people at risk for HIV also increase their risk for other STDs. These behaviors include the following:

  • Having sex without a condom.

  • Having sex while using drugs or alcohol. Using drugs and alcohol can affect a person’s judgement, which can lead to risky behaviors.

Having an STD can make it easier to get HIV. For example, an STD can cause a sore or a break in the skin, which can make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Having HIV and another STD may increase the risk of HIV transmission.

How can I reduce my risk of getting an STD?

Sexual abstinence (never having vaginal, anal, or oral sex) is the only way to eliminate any chance of getting an STD. But if you are sexually active, you can take the following steps to lower your risk for STDs, including HIV.

Choose less risky sexual behaviors.

Use condoms correctly every time you have sex.


What are the symptoms of STDs?

Symptoms of STDs may be different depending on the STD, and men and women with the same STD can have different symptoms. Examples of possible STD symptoms include painful or frequent urination (peeing), unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, and fever.

STDs may not always cause symptoms. Even if a person has no symptoms from an STD, it is still possible to pass the STD on to other people.


What is the treatment for STDs?

STDs caused by bacteria or parasites can be cured with medicine. There’s no cure for STDs caused by viruses, but treatment can relieve or eliminate symptoms and help keep the STD under control. Treatment also reduces the risk of passing on the STD to a partner. For example, although there's no cure for HIV, ART can prevent HIV from advancing to AIDS and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

Untreated STDs may lead to serious complications. For example, untreated gonorrhea in women can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which may lead to infertility. Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS.

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