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STD Information

There are many ways that Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes, and HIV can be transmitted from one person to the next. In addition to sexual activity, STDs can be communicated through pregnancy, needle-sharing, skin-on-skin contact, and even breastfeeding.

Any kind of sexual activity can potentially transmit STDs from one person to another. Although diseases such as Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV are spread through body fluids, Herpes and other STDs are spread through skin-to-skin contact. Condoms may reduce the transmission of STDs, but they are not foolproof.

The most alarming aspect of current Baltimore STD facts is that many sexually transmitted diseases exhibit no signs or symptoms. If you are a Baltimore area resident who is worried that you may have contracted an STD, the only way to determine whether or not transmission has actually occurred is through a simple STD test. Baltimore ranked 15th among 50 states in chlamydial infections and ranked 19th among 50 states in gonorrheal infections. Reported rates of chlamydia among women were 3.4 times greater than those among men.

Call to make an appointment to be tested:

Baltimore County Department of Health:
1811 Woodlawn Drive, Woodlawn, MD 21207; 410-887-1332

Baltimore City Department of Health: 1515 North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21207; 410-396-0176

HERPES

Most of the time herpes doesn’t cause any symptoms. When there are signs, they can include blisters around the genitals or anus. The first outbreak of sores is usually the worst. A person with herpes may have additional outbreaks of sores weeks or months after the first outbreak. These additional outbreaks are less severe, heal faster and occur less often over time. There is no cure for herpes, but there are antiviral medications that can shorten and prevent outbreaks of sores as long as the person continues the medication. Taking this medicine every day can reduce the risk of passing the virus to a partner.

BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS (BV)

BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age and it occurs when there is an overgrowth of certain “bad” bacteria in the vagina.BV occurs when the balance between “good” and “harmful” bacteria is thrown off. Often there are no symptoms at all, but sometimes BV is accompanied by unusual discharge, strong odor, painful urination, itching, or burning.BV can be treated with antibiotic pills, vaginal creams or suppositories. Sometimes BV will clear up on its own, but getting treatment is important to avoid complications. BV is considered a sexually associated infection, not specifically an STI because it can be spread through sexual contact.

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) AND GENITAL WARTS

HPV is the most common STD and at least 50% of sexually active people will get it at some time in their lives. The body usually clears HPV on its own without causing any problems, but HPV can lead to certain kinds of cancer. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Most of the time there are no symptoms and the virus clears on its own, but several types can cause genital warts or lead to vaginal, anal, throat and cervical cancer. The types of HPV that cause warts do not cause cancer, but they can indicate a higher risk for having the types of HPV that are linked to cancer. The types of HPV that can cause cancer do not show any signs.

The body will usually clear HPV infections on its own within a couple of months. Warts can be treated in several different ways:

  • Patient can apply creams, gels, and solutions (prescribed by health care provider)
  • A health care provider can freeze them off with liquid nitrogen
  • A health care provider can burn them off with trichloroacetic acid or bichloroacetic acid
  • A health care provider can apply a tincture or ointment that will remove the warts
  • A health care provider can cut off the warts using a scalpel, scissors, curette or electro-surgery
  • All of these options may take multiple treatments to completely remove warts.

Cancer-causing HPV can be monitored in females through regular Pap tests, but there is no specific treatment to eliminate HPV from the body. If the HPV causes abnormal cells to form, a health care provider will likely remove the cells and biopsy them. Depending on the type of abnormalities, the provider may recommend a colposcopy (a special exam that magnifies the walls of the vagina and cervix) or LEEP (a procedure to remove the abnormal cells before they can cause cancer).

HPV is extremely common and there is no general test for the virus’ many forms. Although there is no cure, the body will usually clear the HPV infection on its own.

GONORRHEA

Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs in Baltimore and can lead to infertility in men and women. It is both treatable and preventable, though scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to all currently utilized antibiotics.

Many people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms. Those who do might notice unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and/or pain or difficultly peeing. Men may have swelling in their testicles and women may bleed in between periods. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility without ever showing symptoms. It can also spread to the blood and joints.

Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics, usually given in a single dose. If you’re being treated, your partner should be tested too. You should also wait until you and your partner(s) finish your treatment and until your symptoms disappear (if you have them) before you start having sex again. This is to make sure you don’t spread the infection.

In addition to the urethra and vagina, gonorrhea can also cause infections in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus/

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and is the leading cause of preventable infertility in the United States. If left untreated, Chlamydia may also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women. Chlamydia is both treatable and preventable.Most people with Chlamydia don’t have any symptoms, but those who do might have unusual genital discharge and/or pain and burning when urinating.