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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

April Is STD Awareness Month: Time to Take the Test

By Candace Y.A. Montague

April 19, 2011

Get it over with already. Photo: cdc.gov.

Get it over with already. Photo: cdc.gov.

April has been designated as sexually transmitted diseases awareness month. According to the CDC, over 19 million new STD cases are found ever year (no that's not a misprint). This month is about more than just knowing how many sexually transmitted diseases there are in the world (there are over 25 by the way). It is also about knowing which ones are deadly, how many are treatable, and how you can find out if you have one.

Let's start with the basics. Here's a quick and dirty (no pun intended) list of the most common STD and how they are treated:

  • Chlamydia -- an STD which can interfere with a woman's chance to reproduce. It has very few if any symptoms which is why it is called the "silent STD" (remember Miranda from Sex and the City found out about it through a routine doctor's visit? She didn't see that coming.). It can cause discharge from a man's penis. It is one of the most common STDs and is curable once detected.
  • Hepatitis -- a viral infection that can affect the liver. There are five forms of it (A, B, C, D and E) however, only A, B and C can be transmitted sexually. 4.4 million people live with chronic hepatitis in the US. It is definitely treatable and some forms have a vaccine available to prevent it. See below for a great source on Hepatitis.
  • Genital Herpes -- an STD caused by the herpes virus. There are two forms: Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2. Symptoms manifest in the way of blisters or sores around the genitalia. It is treatable but there is no cure.
  • HIV -- a virus that attacks the immune system and can cause AIDS. If you already have an STD, you are two to five more times likely to contract it. There are very few symptoms but if you have multiple sex partners and have been engaging in unprotected sex acts, get tested for it at least every six months. There are treatments for HIV but there is no cure.
  • Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV) -- a virus with no set of symptoms. There are more than 40 HPV types and can cause problems such as genital warts and cancer. Two vaccines have been developed to prevent HPV among young girls (Cervarix and Gardasil -- think of the commercial with the school girls playing jump rope on the playground "I wanna be one less -- one less"). It will clear up on its own 90% of the time but that's no reason not to get checked out.
  • Syphilis -- the symptoms of this one can be similar to other STDs so it's hard to distinguish it. In most cases, it is passed from a syphilis sore on the mouth or genital. It is a becoming a major sexual health concern among men who have sex with men. It is curable in its early stages.

Have you heard enough? Do you feel overwhelmed and hopeless? Well ... don't. Most of these STDs are treatable and some are curable. Here in D.C. there are several places to get tested including Planned Parenthood, Us Helping Us, Whitman-Walker Clinic, and Children's National Medical Center. Wanna get tested out side of the city for the sake of discretion? Click here for a list of testing sites around the beltway.

Recommended Website: The Hepatitis Foundation. This is an excellent organization located right next door to D.C. in Silver Spring. They are very devoted to educating the public about Hepatitis. The founder herself still does trainings and lectures locally. She's very cool.

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See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
Ten Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Is HIV the Only Incurable Sexually Transmitted Disease?
The HIV-STD Connection
More News on Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC Examiner.com and emPower News Magazine.

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