I HAVE AN STD. NOW WHAT DO I DO? before You Engage in Sexual Activity, You Need to Talk to Your Partner

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Byline: Joy Batteh-Freiha

Sexually transmitted diseases are contracted during sexual activity, usually with a partner who already has the disease.

Though they are serious illnesses, most STDs are treatable and easily diagnosed by examination, cultures or blood tests. Some, however - human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), for instance - are not curable and can be deadly.

That's why, aside from abstaining from sexual contact, communicating with your partner about your sexual health is an important way to protect yourself from a potentially life-threatening illness.

We asked board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist Angela Martin of New Horizons: Women's Medical Group at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville to explain STDs 101, and how best way to broach the subject with your partner.

What are the different types of sexually transmitted diseases?

STDs include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, syphillis, HIV, HPV (human papillomavirus), herpes and hepatitis. Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria called neisseria gonorrhoeae; chlamydia is caused by an intracellular bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis; and syphilis is caused by a spirochete called treponema pallidum. HIV and AIDS is caused by human immunodeficiency virus; HPV infections are caused by viruses; herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus; and hepatitis is transmitted by viruses.

How do people get an STD?

They are most commonly transmitted through penile-vaginal intercourse. HIV virus is most readily transmitted through anal sex. Herpes consists of types 1 and 2. Type 1 is associated with oral lesions, while type 2 is associated with genital lesions. Therefore, herpes infections can be transmitted through kissing, oral sex, vaginal and anal sex. HPV is transmitted through penile-vaginal sex or penile-anal sex. And gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis can be transmitted through intercourse and through oral-genital contact. Hepatitis can be transmitted through intercourse, and exposure to infected blood products, as can HIV.

How are STDs treated and are any deadly?

Most STDs can be cured and treated with appropriate antibiotics. However, there is no cure for HPV infections. The body's own immune system can sometimes clear the virus, but re-exposures and re-infections are common. There are treatments for cervical dysplasia (precancer changes of the cervix). …