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std first occurring
Feb 24, 1997

once you become exposed to an std(any), how long after infection does the symtoms occur(warts,lesions,etc). If it has been longer than a month, and no signs of infection, does that mean I am not infected. Also, if you are exposed on your hands or penis, can lesions or cold sores grow on your mouth.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

This is not a simple question to answer, since Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) are actually an entire group of diseases. The symptoms that occur from STD's can vary widely from one disease to another. The length of time it takes for symptoms to occur, and where on the body symptoms occur, can also vary widely from one STD to another. Some diseases have symptoms that appear in days, weeks, or months after infection (Chlamydia, and gonorrhea are examples). Some STD's have symptoms that can appear many months after infection (like genital warts). Some STD's have symptoms that can appear, and disappear over a matter of weeks, months and even years (syphilis is an example of this). Symptoms of syphilis vary widely depending on the stage of syphilis, and each stage has totally different symptoms associated with it. For most STD's, symptoms will appear within weeks or months after infection. But remember, some STD's like HIV and HTLV-I may not show symptoms until literally years after infection. And the viral STD's (Herpes, Hepatitis B, HIV, HTLV-I, Genital Warts, and others) are lifelong infections, and can show symptoms literally years after infection. Therefore, let me give you some general guidelines regarding STD's.

If you notice any unusual growths or lesions (even lesions that don't hurt) in the genital area, mouth, or rectum weeks or even months after an exposure, this may be an STD. See your physician or other healthcare professional to find out what these lesions or growths may be.

If you notice any unusual discharge from the genital area days or weeks after infection, see your physician or other healthcare professional to find out what may be causing this discharge. It may or may not be an STD.

If you notice any unusual itching in the genital or anal areas, see your physician or other healthcare professional to find out what may be causing the itching. It may or may not be an STD.

Even if you don't have any symptoms, you may still have an STD. A person can have various STD's and have no symptoms at all. However, even without symptoms, an infected person may still be able to infect other persons (depending on the disease). So it's possible to have an STD but not have any symptoms.

If you've put yourself at risk of infection with STD's, get tested, whether or not you are showing symptoms. Getting tested is the ONLY way to know if any symptoms are due to an STD or not. And remember, you can have an STD and have no noticeable symptoms at all.

In summary, if you have any unusual growths, lesions (even ones that don't hurt), discharges, or other unusual symptoms in the mouth, genital area, and rectum, see your physician. These symptoms can appear days, weeks or months after infection. In some cases, symptoms may not appear until years after infection. The symptoms of each disease is different. It's impossible for me to go over every STD here (that would take an entire book!). But the golden rule is, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned here, get tested, and don't have unprotected sex until you find out what is causing your symptoms. Even if you don't have symptoms, get tested for STD's if you've been possibly exposed. Remember, you can have an STD, have no symptoms, and still infect others. Simply put, if you've put yourself at risk for HIV/STD's, get tested whether or not you are showing symptoms.

If you have specific questions regarding a particular STD, check to see if this STD has been discussed in this forum already. If you have questions regarding a specific STD that has not yet been discussed on this website, please feel free to call or e-mail me, or leave a question on this website.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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