Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Health Tip #17, 22 January 1997
This semester my Health Tips will deal less with stuff like Hay Fever, Fingernails, and Alien Invasions, and more with stuff like Safer Sex, Abortion, Relationships, etc. If you have requests for any topics, please contact me or leave an anonymous note in the Health Worker Q & A box at the Security Monitor desk. But donít restrict yourself to topics like these ask for anything that you want to know about.
Before talking about how to prevent STDs, first hereís an overview of symptoms, treatment, etc. Remember, these are all very brief summaries of the diseases. Cindy and I have more detailed books and pamphlets that you are welcome to borrow.
Gonorrhea, or "the Clap", is a bacterial infection which can be cured with antibiotics. In men it causes discharge and burning in the penis, and in women there is sometimes vaginal discharge or discomfort, but often there might not be any symptoms. Untreated, it can cause severe pelvic inflammations, infertility, heart problems, arthritis, etc.
Chlamydia is another STD that is similar to gonorrhea, but is even more common as 10-15% of a college student population may be infected. About 75% of those infected have no symptoms, so it is important to be regularly screened in your medical check-ups if you are sexually active.
Crabs or Pubic Lice are parasites which live in the pubic hair, causing itching and occasional sores. They can be spread through infected linen and clothing, toilet seats, as well as close personal contact with someone who is infected. The lice can be killed through medication.
AIDS, which stands for Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, is a virus that causes susceptibility to other diseases, fatigue, fever, weight loss, night sweats, swollen glands, diarrhea, dry cough. AIDS is fatal and there is no known cure or vaccine, just some drugs that can slow it down a little bit.
Genital Warts are fleshy growths in the genital or anal areas. Called "condylomas", they can be surgically removed or burned off, but often the warts can return following treatment.
Syphilis starts out as a chancre sore in the genital, oral, or anal areas, and develops into a rash, slight fever, and swollen joints. It can be treated with penicillin, but if it is not treated, it can cause blindness, brain damage, heart disease, and birth defects.
Genital Herpes cause sores and blisters, fever, swollen lymph glands, flu-like symptoms, and complications with pregnancy. There is no cure to this disease, though some medications can ease some symptoms. Avoid all sexual contact during a herpes outbreak because that is when it is the most contagious.
Sources of Information:
Take Care of Yourself, Vickery & Fries, 1996.
What Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases, American College Health Association, 1989.