With millions of new cases diagnosed each year, sexually transmitted infections are one of the fastest growing class of illnesses in San Francisco. The largest age group affected by this alarming new trend is the 15 to 24-year-old population. While the exact cause of this increase has not been identified, there are several reasons thought to be contributing factors.
Many STI’s are often asymptomatic and therefore go undetected until life-threatening complications are recognized. Significant health consequences such as infertility, cancers and other chronic diseases can occur years after the initial infection creating a lack of awareness among the younger generation that in effect leads to higher rates of risk-taking. Frequently, clinicians are inhibited from educating their patients regarding STIs due to misconceptions and the stigma attached to having an STI or STD. Finally, it is important to note that STIs are not a stationary group of infections, since 1980, eight new sexually transmitted pathogens have been identified bringing with them new challenges in prevention and treatment.
To help combat the rising numbers of new cases, at EzCare Medical STD Clinic, we have renewed determination to educate our patients. The adage “the more you know” often comes to mind with dealing with such high rates of infection.
What are STIs and STDs?
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, STIs and STDs can be thought of in similar terms, but there is at least one significant difference. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are passed from one person to another by sexual contact. One common misconception, especially among younger demographics, is that vaginal or anal sex are the only types of sexual activity in which you can be exposed to an STI. On the contrary, oral sex has its own separate set of risks associated with the action.
Infections, especially those left untreated, can lead to more complex and potentially deadly illnesses called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some may ask why the distinction is necessary to know considering they are so closely related. The social stigma associated with the term STD has made many people hesitant to consult with qualified medical professionals about testing, treatment and prevention methods. Additionally, the difference between the two exemplifies the differences in the treatment and disease evolution. Probably one of the most well-known examples of this distinction is HIV vs. AIDS. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the infection that causes the disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Just because individuals have HIV doesn’t mean that they have AIDS or that their illness will ever develop that disease. Read more.
How are individuals infected by STD?
STIs, like their names suggest, is spread through sexual contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and mucous membranes. Most infections are bacterial but viral, and parasitic infections are also common. While bacterial and viral infections require direct contact with fluids, parasitic infections can occur from handling infested clothing, bedding, and towels of infected individuals.
STD Prevention San Francisco
The most obvious way to prevent contracting or spreading a sexually transmitted infection is to abstain from all forms of sexual contact. The next best solution after abstinence is to practice safe sex. As with pregnancy prevention, the use of condoms and other prophylactics are not 100% effective against preventing infection.
Latex condoms and dental dams are the number one method used to prevent infection. Some individuals may be sensitive to the preferred latex materials, for those people, plastic varieties are available as well. Open and honest discussions with your sexual partner can also help to prevent infections. Limiting the number of sexual partners is always suggested. Just because your partner doesn’t have an infection, doesn’t mean someone he or she has had unprotected sex with doesn’t have an infection as well. Refrain from sexual activity if symptoms are present or if your partner has an infection but has not been treated.
STI’s and STDs can affect persons of all racial, cultural, socioeconomic and religious groups and regardless of sexual preference. Annual screening and testing are necessary to help stem the tide of transmission.
Symptoms of STIs and STDs in men
Unfortunately, not everyone infected with an STI knows their status. Recognizing the signs of an infection can help prevent transmission. Unusual sores, lesions, rashes or blisters on the genitals are commonly seen in infected men. Discharge or itching of the penis, testicles or anus along with pain or burning during urination or ejaculation can also be seen. Individuals engaging in oral sex may also report a sore throat as well. Regrettably, many sexually transmitted infections can present as flu-like symptoms or even not at all. Being comfortable with your own body and discussing sometimes difficult issues with your partner and doctor is the only way to determine your risk of infection.
STD Testing San Francisco
Symptoms of an STI can present anywhere from a few days to several weeks after exposure, but it is important to note that it is not uncommon for the first sign of an infection to be the more severe complications of a disease. Annual testing is advised for individuals who are sexually active and are at risk for sexually transmitted infections. During a routine exam, your doctor will ask a series of questions to determine if you should be tested. If so, the tests themselves are easy to perform. Blood and urine samples along with any samples from questionable sores will be taken. Although most tests take several weeks before the results are ready, HIV and syphilis tests can be performed in the office making quick results available.
All sexually transmitted infections are dangerous, though viral infections seem to wreak the most havoc on the entire body and often result in lifelong infections. HIV and herpes are two viral infections for which there is no cure at this time though effective treatments have been developed to make living with these diseases easier. Many other infections are cured with strong medicines and are somewhat simple to remedy if caught early.
EZCare Clinic in the San Francisco area has an experienced, non-judgmental staff waiting to work with individuals needing comprehensive and private sexual healthcare. STD appointments are not required but appreciated. Call today to schedule your confidential STD testing consultation. (415) 966-0848.