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F.A.Q.'s Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an STD?
- Do I have an STD?
- What are the Symptoms of STD's
- Is there a cure for STD's?
- How many people have STD's?
- I Have an STD… Did my partner cheat on me?
- How can I avoid contracting an STD?
- Can I get an STD from Oral Sex?
- Can I get an STD if I'm a Virgin?
- Do all STD's have Symptoms?
- Are Condoms Effective Against All STD's?
- Can I get an STD even though my partner has no symptoms?
- Are “cold sores” really Herpes?
- Can I get an STD from kissing?
- Should I get tested for an STD?
- Can I get an STD more than once?
- What are HIV & AIDS?
- Do I need to get tested? Where can I get tested?
- Where did HIV come from?
- Is there a cure for HIV?
- What is the difference between HIV-1 and HIV-2?
- How is HIV transmitted?
- Can I get HIV from casual contact?
- Can mosquitoes transmit HIV?
- Are condoms effective in preventing HIV transmission?
- Is abstinence the only way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV?
- Can I get HIV from unprotected oral sex?
- What if I have another Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)?
- How is HIV transmitted through injecting drug use?
- Additional Questions?
What is an STD?
STD, or Sexually Transmitted Disease, is a kind of disease that is transmitted or passed on from an infected person to a non-infected person through sexual contact. There are however cases wherein an STD is transmitted through non-sexual interaction, but is generally rare.
Do I have STD?
Some STD s does not have symptoms, and while some do, they tend to appear minimally. With this, it can be hard to state that you have STD. The surest way to know if you are infected or not is to undergo a proper STS testing. Considering that you have had any sexual contact in your life, unprotected or not, then you may be at risk of being infected with the disease and should be tested.
What are the symptoms of STD?
It is important to note that while some STDs do not show any signs and symptoms, some do show but because of its mildness, we tend to treat them as minor skin problems and dismiss them fully.
- Dark or smelly urine
- A secretion or discharge from a genital organ
- A strange rash or spots on your body
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Presence of Bumps, legions, blisters, or warts on the genital area
- An unusual odor
- White spots in pubic hair or small bugs
Is there a cure for STD?
Some STDs do have cure, like antibiotics, if diagnosed and treated in its early onset. Others STDs though do not have a cure, and once contracted, may stay with you for the rest of your life. For these diseases, though it may not be curable, have certain medications that help restrain the virus from spreading in their normal pace or even faster than they could.
How many people have STD?
There's about 1 in every 4 people that are infected with STD. However, there are some STDs that were not brought to medical practitioners to be treated as they can simply be treated at home with antibiotics and the like.
I have an STD… Did my partner cheat on me?
If you just found out that you have an STD and in a seriously honest and loyal monogamous relationship, it does not necessarily mean that your partner has contracted an STD by cheating and passed it on to you. You must consider the fact that some STDs show no symptoms and it may be that it's just now that they started to appear. Either you contracted the disease yourself or your partner may have been infected with it years before both of you started the monogamous relationship. So it is best that both you and your partner get tested and be treated.
How can I avoid contracting an STD?
Condom usage is one best way to avoid being infected with an STD, however it is not a 100% guarantee. Another sure way to prevent contracting STD is, as clichéd as it may sound, to abstain from any sexual contact including oral sex. And being in a monogamous relationship where both parties are faithful and have been tested, and/or cured for an STD, then it would be fine. Although, do not think that being in a situation like that would mean that you can never contract STD because as we may all know, sometimes things happen and so does cheating.
Can I get an STD from oral sex?
It is a common misconception that one cannot contract an STD from oral sex, because gonorrhea bacteria can grow and infect your throat, and there is also herpes and genital warts in the mouth. All of which can be contracted thru oral sex.
Can I get an STD if I'm a virgin?
Anyone who does not engage in ANY sexual act, including petting or touching of your “private parts” or your partner's, then you have very slim chances of contracting an STD. However, once you start doing ANY small sexual act, then your chances of getting STD can increase, dramatically.
Do all STDs have symptoms?
Some STDs show no symptoms at first, and show them years after contracting the disease. Some have common symptoms, and some tend to be inconspicuous that they go undetected. If you have had any sexual relations with another, then it may be best that you get yourself tested.
Are condoms effective against all STDs?
Using condoms is one responsible way to avoid contracting an STD. However, they do not prevent against all STDs.
Can I get an STD even though my partner has no symptoms?
If your partner is infected with an STD, you have a slightly lower chance of contracting it when there are no symptoms present such as in HSV but they are still contagious and transmission of the disease is possible.
Are “cold sores” really herpes?
Cold sores found in the mouth are a symptom of herpes, specifically herpes simplex virus-1, and can be transmitted to the genitals and the mouth.
Can I get STD from kissing?
The STD herpes can be transmitted to the mouth. Thus it is possible to contract STD from kissing, however slim the chances.
Should I get tested for an STD?
If you have had any sexual contact, then you should get tested for all STDs on a regular basis to insure protection of yourself and your partners.
Can I get an STD more than once?
Yes. You are more likely to be infected again of the disease, and any other STDs, if you have been treated. The antibiotics you took were to cure you from the disease, not to protect you from it like a vaccine.
What are HIV and AIDS?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV attacks and destroys the immune system and become sick with a number of conditions. Although sometimes, people diagnosed with HIV-positive do not get sick for many years. Further, contracting HIV does not mean that they also have AIDS.
When an HIV-positive person have certain opportunistic and medical conditions such as T-cell and CD4 count of less than 200, then a person is said to have AIDS. An AIDS diagnosis generally occurs after many years of infection. And ONLY a physician can make that final statement that a person now has AIDS. AIDS, by the way, is the technical term defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
HIV is the virus, AIDS is the disease and “HIV disease” is the most appropriate way to describe the continuum of HIV to AIDS. With good medical care and religious intake of medications, a person diagnosed as HIV-positive still has a chance of a healthy living.
Do I need to get tested? Where can I get tested?
If you have had unprotected anal or vaginal sex or shared needles, then HIV transmission can occur. If you believe you have been exposed to the HIV virus, then you should get yourself tested. Go through the other questions in this page to help you assess your situation or you may call us for counseling and assessment, at 1-800-805-7837. Blood testing is the most commonly used test that looks for antibodies that the body's immune system developed to fight off the virus. There is what they call as the “window period,” a period of time it takes for the body to create the necessary antibodies after exposure. The period varies from one person to another – some takes only a month, while others take a bit longer. Thus, clinicians agree a three-month period after exposure to get tested to attain a conclusive result. All pregnant women should undergo HIV testing so they can be treated prenatally and avoid passing on the virus to their baby. It is particularly important to practice abstinence or safe sex and to avoid sharing needles during the window period in order to get an accurate HIV test result, and to avoid the risk of infecting another person since newly infected people are especially infectious to others.
Call us at 1800-805-7837 to get information about the testing and testing sites in your area.
Where did HIV come from?
The origin of HIV is still being continuously debated, and different theories arise between experts since it came to full awareness in the 1980s. Despite these differing theories, all of them agree that HIV is the virus that wane a person's immune system and makes the body grow weaker and more susceptible to other diseases and then be diagnosed with AIDS.
A virus found in a subspecies of African chimpanzees was related to the most common HIV virus, the HIV-1, reported by a group of international scientists in February of 1999. And from then on, it has been accepted that HIV virus is a descendant of that virus. Speculation was that that virus was transmitted from chimpanzee to person through eating the animal's meat or through open wounds during hunting where the animal's blood easily seeped into the human body.
Is there a cure for HIV?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the HIV virus yet, although it is being researched continuously. There are, however, medications that can slow down the spread of virus and progressing damage to the immune system. And there are also drugs that are known to prevent or treat a result of the HIV virus – the opportunistic diseases. These drugs were available mid-to-late 1990s.
What is the difference between HIV-1 and HIV-2?
The main difference between these two is territorial in nature: HIV-1 is the most widespread and the most known epidemic between the two, including the United States; HIV-2, on the other hand, is the primary epidemic in West Africa. However, both HIV viruses have available tests and screenings in blood banks and plasma centers.
Because HIV-2 exists mainly in West Africa, testing for this specific strain of virus is only recommended when the person has an exposure risk factor to the virus, e.g. engaged with someone from a country where it is prevalent.
How is HIV transmitted?
In order for one to be infected with the HIV virus, the virus itself must enter an uninfected person's bloodstream. It enters the bloodstream thru mucus membrane contact or open cuts and wounds or by injection. Thus, casual contact, sweat, tears, urine or saliva are not transmitters of this virus. They are passed on through blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk. HIV cases showed that most of the transmission occurs when they engage in unprotected anal or vaginal sex, or by needle-sharing. However, in very rare cases, transmission occurred in an oral sex. HIV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to baby through breastfeeding. It should be noted however, that the virus is not concentrated in breast milk so only upon huge breast milk consumption can the transmission take place.
Further, transmission of HIV occurs only when a person is exposed to it in high concentration. And when he or she gets infected, the virus spread rapidly and multiplies even faster. The newly infected person should refrain from engaging in unprotected sex or he should practice safe sex or not share needles until they get a definitive HIV test.
Can I get HIV through casual contact?
No, HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact because it is a fragile virus and dies within seconds after light and air (oxygen) exposure. Casual contacts are hugging, kissing, shaking hands; even utensil or towel sharing, swimming in public pools and using public restrooms would not infect you with the virus. It is only transmitted when one of these four fluids enter your bloodstream: blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. And common reason of its spread is through unprotected anal or vaginal sex and through needle sharing.
Can mosquitoes transmit HIV?
No, mosquitoes cannot transmit HIV. It has been proven and evidence shows that HIV transmission is impossible in mosquito bites:
- Mosquitoes do not carry enough of the virus to ingest into others. The very small amount of virus they may carry is not even enough to cause an HIV infection.
- Mosquitoes digest the virus that they may have ingested into their body. The virus could not survive inside the insect.
- Mosquitoes are not flying hypodermic needles. A mosquito's intricate feeding apparatus does not involve any exchange of blood between the mosquito and host.
Are condoms effective in preventing HIV transmission?
Yes, condoms are effective protective barriers against HIV or any other transmitted barriers, if used consistently and correctly, stated CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Both male and female condoms can protect the organ against fluids that transmit HIV (semen for female and vaginal fluids for men and blood in the rectum). The most common material of condom is latex, which is great barrier because viruses cannot go through it. If allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane. If there's a need for lubricants, use a water-based lubricant and not the oil-based. Oil-based lubricants can cause tears or leaks in the latex causing it to break. Lambskin or natural condoms have pores small enough for small fluid containing HIV to pass through. They do not prevent the transmission of HIV.
Condoms must be stored, used and disposed of properly. Observe its expiration date and tear it open carefully, never use a scissors or your teeth to open it as it may cause tiny cuts in the condom where the virus can pass through. And never re-use the product or exposed to extreme temperatures.
Nonoxynol-9 is a powerful chemical that is used alongside condoms or other birth control methods to help prevent pregnancy as it kills the semen. However, this chemical should not be used as a means of preventing HIV infection because some people are allergic to it and for some, it irritates their organ that results from sores which the virus can actually use to enter the uninfected person's bloodstream.
Is abstinence the only way to avoid the sexual transmission of HIV?
Abstinence is not the only way to prevent HIV transmission. Proper and consistent use of latex barriers and condoms is another. But there are really those who opt to practice abstinence. This decision however, is not fool proof as other factors like drinking or drug use can impair one's decision-making and may eventually lead difficulties in abstinence or to unsafe sex. One can also learn about sexual activities that helps one avoid exposure to vaginal or semen fluid.
Can I get HIV from unprotected oral sex?
HIV is not transmitted through saliva, but through HIV infected semen, vaginal fluids and blood. So the risk of getting HIV through unprotected oral sex is extremely minimal. Risk is increased when there are open cuts in the mouth or on the genitals. Having other STDs can increase the risk of getting HIV, specifically the sores associated with syphilis and herpes. You can, however risk HIV transmission during oral sex by using latex or polyurethane barriers.
It is important to note that other sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted through oral sex.
What if I have another Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)?
Research has shown that when one is currently diagnosed with another STD, he or she is 2 to 5 times more likely to be infected with HIV. The HIV can easily enter the body when the current STD causes sores or skin irritation. Even if no sores or irritations are present, it can still stimulate an immune response that allows HIV transmission more likely. Most STDs can be identified by testing within a few weeks after exposure and many are treatable or curable.
How is HIV transmitted through injecting drug use?
Needle sharing is a high risk behavior for HIV transmission, and another STD, hepatitis. Some of the blood is left in the syringe after use and this can be transferred to another bloodstream when shared. When the first user is diagnosed HIV positive, then the risk of acquiring HIV is as positive as well.
It is important to note as well that it is the sharing of needles and not the drug use wherein HIV can be transmitted.
If you have more questions, or would want to be scheduled for a test, please contact us. Be assured that your calls are always confidential.