Sexually Transmitted Diseases



Sexually Transmitted Diseases

This edition of the FAQ was written in the early part of 1994 by the last FAQ Committee. They reflect the best wisdom and knowledge of all the participants on the committee at that time.

Since those days, however, has been overrun by advertising spam of such unbelievable volume that nobody asks questions anymore. There are no “frequently asked questions” on the newsgroup and maintaining an FAQ for it, especially one of the considerable quality found here, is simply not worthwhile or even honest.

Consider this a historical document. It reflects as it existed in its finest, most golden years. Some sections will never be out of date; it’s hard to imagine good advice on oral sex or virginity or even buying a great sex toy ever going out of style. Anatomy doesn’t change although our understanding of it might. Some sections, however, are dreadfully out of date; The sections on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Legal Issues, even Terms and Acronyms have fallen far behind the times. For lists of current resources, Yahoo might be a better place to start.

If you think you have an STD go to your doctor and get a diagnosis as early as possible. Most common sexually transmitted diseases can be cured. This FAQ is not meant to displace sound medical advice from a licensed physician.


Full name:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. It is important to distinguish between the two. HIV is the virus that ultimately causes AIDS. AIDS is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms associated with HIV infection.
People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for up to fifteen years. During this time, they are capable of infecting anyone they have sex with or donate blood to. Initial symptoms of HIV infection include inexplicable weight loss, persistent fever, swollen lymph nodes, and reddish spots on the skin (Karposi's Sarcoma).

HIV causes the destruction of the immune system. It's most pronounced symptoms, therefore, are opportunistic infections of pneumocystis carinii, fungal infections, tuberculosis, and various herpes forms.

    There is no cure for HIV / AIDS. Right now most scientists agree that if you are infected with HIV,
    you will eventually die of AIDS. Treatment may fend off infections, however the typical course is for
    one overwhelming infection to follow another until the victim succumbs. Various drugs may slow the
    virus, but right now there is no cure.
    In a person infected with HIV, the virus can be present in the body's semen, blood, and breast milk.
    It can also be present, in much smaller quantities, in vaginal secretion, saliva, and tears.
    The AIDS virus can be transmitted via any of these fluids, but only the first two -- semen and blood
    -- are likely to be involved. Anal sex is the most commonly perceived method of transfer, but vaginal
    sex has been repeatedly shown to transmit HIV. Men are less likely than women to be infected through
    vaginal sex, but there are recorded cases of men having been infected this way. Cunnilingus and
    fellatio have also been established as capable of transmitting the virus. Sexual activities, not
    sexual orientation, transmit the virus.
    HIV cannot be passed on through casual contact, hugging, hand-shaking, touching the sweat of an
    infected person, or mosquito bites.
    The HIV test shows the presence of antibodies to HIV. It does not show the presence of the virus: the
    body first has to develop antibodies, which normally takes about six weeks. Hence, a positive result
    means that someone has antibodies and could possibly develop AIDS in the future. A negative result
    means that someone does not have antibodies *at the moment*. If there is a reason to think that
    exposure was more recent than six weeks, then a test taken immediately can only serve as a baseline to
    compare against a test taken later. Within six months of HIV infection, 99% of the population will
    test positive. No one should be tested for HIV without first obtaining counselling and ensuring
    *beforehand* support from his or her family or friends.
    The following numbers may be of use:
<dd>AIDS Hotline (800) 342-2437</dd>
<dd>AIDS Information Clearing House (800) 458-5231 9-7 EST</dd>
<dd>CDC AIDS Ethnicity, Age recording (404) 330-3020</dd>
<dd>CDC AIDS Transmission mode recording (404) 330-3021</dd>
<dd>CDC AIDS Top 10, Projections recording (404) 330-3022</dd>


Male Symptoms:
Yellowish discharge from the penis. Painful, frequent urination. Symptoms develop from two to thirty days after infection. Roughly 20% of infected men have no symptoms. Later stages of the infection may move into the prostate, seminal vesicles, and epididymis, causing severe pain and fever. Rare cases can lead to septic arthritis. Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to sterility.
Female Symptoms:
Under half of women with gonorrhea show no symptoms, or symptoms so mild they are commonly ignored. Early symptoms include increased vaginal discharge, irritation of the external genitals, pain or burning on urination and abnormal menstrual bleeding. Women who are untreated may develop severe complications. The infection will usually spread to the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID, though not only caused by gonorrhea, is the most common cause of female infertility. Early symptoms of PID are lower abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and pain during intercourse.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection, and is therefore treated with standard antibiotics, usually a member of the penicillin family. Tetracycline drugs frequently do not cure gonorrhea, especially in cases of anal infection. One variety of gonorrhea, penicilliase-producing N. gonorrhea, is immune to penicillin, and drugs of the cyclosporin family may be necessary.
The bacteria that causes gonorrhea can be passed through sexual contact, such as intercourse, fellatio, anal sex, cunnilingus and even kissing, although the last is rare.


Primary Stage:
A chancre sore develops at the site of infection from two to four weeks after infection has occurred. The chancre is painless 75% of the time. The chancre starts as a dull red spot, turns into a pimple, which ulcerates, forming a round or oval sore with a red rim. The sore heals in 4-6 weeks - however, the infection is still present. The chancre is usually found on the genitals or anus, but can appear on any part of the skin.
Secondary Stage:
One week to six months after the chancre heals. Pale red or pinkish rash appears (often on palms or soles) fever, sore throat, headaches, joint pains, poor appetite, weight loss, hair loss. Moist sores may appear around the genitals or anus and are highly infectious. Symptoms usually last three to six months, but can come and go.
Latent Stage:
No apparent symptoms, and the carrier is no longer contagious. However, the organism is insinuating itself into the host's tissues. 50 to 70 percent of carriers pass the rest of their lives without the disease leaving this stage. The reminder pass into Last Stage syphilis.
Last Stage:
Serious heart problems, eye problems, brain and spinal cord damage, with a high probability of paralysis, insanity, blindness or death.
Penicillin by injection, or a two-week regimen of tetracycline, is the standard treatment for syphilis. Two follow-up blood tests two weeks apart after ending treatment are necessary to ensure the treatment is complete. The first three stages of syphilis are completely curable, and even in the last stage syphilis can be stopped. With the present medical technology to diagnose and treat syphilis, no one should ever suffer the effects of last-stage syphilis.
Nominally sexual contact, but can be transmitted by blood transfusion or from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus.

Gential Warts and Human Papilloma Virus

Half of the people infected with HPV do not show any symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are small, visible warts appearing at the tip of the penis or at the opening of vagina. In women, HPV also causes cervical lesions. Warts can occur anywhere on the shaft of penis or the scrotum in men, and anywhere around the labial area or inside the vagina in women. In women, an abnormal Pap smear may indicate cervical lesions, but a coloscopy is necessary to confirm this.
Warts are pinpoint infections, and can be treated as such. Podophyllin solution, trichlorocetic acid, and fluorouracil cream are three chemical solutions used to burn warts from the skin. Liquid nitrogen or lasers are sometimes used, as well as electrodessication. A six-month check-up is necessary to confirm that all the warts were destroyed, and even then a small percentage of people may experience a recurrence of warts within 18 months.
The virus is transmitted through sexual contact. Warts are considered very contagious even in people who show no visible symptoms.

Genital Herpes, HSV

Full Name:
Herpes Simplex Virus I and Herpes Simplex Virus II. HSV-I is most often associated with cold sores or fever blisters about the mouth and lips, while HSV-II is associated with sores around the gential area. There is some crossover, however, and each virus will survive quite comfortably in both regions.
Herpes is marked by clusters of small, painful blisters on the genitals. After a few days, the blisters burst, leaving small ulcers. In men, the blisters usually appear on the penis, but can appear in the urethra or rectum. In women, they usually appear on the labia, but can appear on the cervix and anal area. First outbreaks are accompanied by fever, headache, and muscle soreness for two or more consecutive days in 39% of men and 68% of women. Other relatively common symptoms include painful urination discharge from the urethra or vagina, and tender, swollen lymph nodes in the groin. These symptoms tend to disappear within two weeks. Aseptic meningitis occurs in 8 percent of cases, eye infections in 1% of cases, and infection of the cervix in 88% of infected women. Skin lesions last on average 16.5 days in men, 19.7 in women. Secondary symptoms are most prominent in the first four days and then gradually diminish.
None in 10% of cases. Frequency for the remaining population is from once a month to once every few years. The majority of sufferers do not have repeat attacks after a few years. Most repeat attacks are less severe than the initial attack.
There is no medical cure for herpes. Treatment with acyclovir reduces pain and viral reproduction during outbreaks of sores, although it will not delay or prevent recurrences.
Generally by sexual contact. Direct contact with infected genitals can cause transmission via intercourse, rubbing genitals together, oral genital contact, anal sex, or oral/anal contact. In addition, normally protected areas of skin can become infected if there is a cut, rash, sore. Herpes viruses can be spread in some instances by kissing, if one participant has the infection sited in or near the mouth.

Crabs, Pubic Lice

Pubic lice are just that, lice that has infested your public hair. The most common symptom is intense itching, usually felt mostly at night. Some victims have no symptoms, others may develop an allergic rash.
Various shampoos and lotions exist to kill lice, but the best solution is simply to shave off the pubic and hair and shower vigorously afterwards.
Nominally through sexual contact, however they may be picked up through use of sheets, towels or clothing used by an infected person.

Nonspecific Urethritis (NSU) or Nongonoccal Urethritis (NGU)

Caused by:
Chlamydia trachomatous, T. mycoplasma, ureaplasma urealyticum, mycolasma hominis. An estimated quarter of cases are allergic reactions to latex or spermicide.
Similar to gonorrhea but usually milder. Urethral discharge is generally thin and clear. Planned Parenthood estimates that half of the women with one of these diseases doesn't know it. NSU/NGU in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and sterility.
In cases involving a pathogen, sexual intercourse, as well as hands with semen or vaginal secretions on them infecting the eye.
Penicillin is generally not effective against NGU/NSU- causing organisms. Tetracycilne is generally prescribed; sulfa drugs are effective against chlamydia but not the others.

Hepatitis B

About half of those who get hepatitis B will suffer from an inflammation of the liver, called acute hepatitis. Many people with hepatitis B mistake the symptoms for other illnesses, such as the flu, while others are more seriously affected and may miss school or work for months. Other common symptoms include skin rashes and arthritis, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, malaise, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
There is no cure for hepatitis B. There is a vaccine, however, that is very effective. It is also expensive. Consult your physician. A small percentage of people who acquire hepatitis B will carry the virus in their bloodstreams for the rest of their lives as carriers.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, and that includes sexual contact. It is a considered a highly infectious disease and should be taken seriously.