So with spring break coming up, a time in which everyone goes understandably a little wild, lets talk about protecting ourselves in a way in which few of us think about: STI’s.
An STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection. Many of which are asymptomatic so the only true way to know if you do not have an STI is to get tested by a doctor. There are a number of tests doctors use to test for STI’s such as blood tests, urine tests, swabbing the area [in the case of vaginal and anal pap smears] (yes, they have those for people at high risk).
There are two basic types of STI’s: Bacterial and Viral. Bacterial infections are mostly curable with antibacterial topicals (ointments) or with medication taken orally. These infections include chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. These STI’s have the possibility to be asymptomatic so the best way to test for these is to get tested regularly.
If you do test positive for any of these or you have the symptoms get and take the medications prescribed by your doctor. As well you should inform any and all partners you’ve had sexual contact with in the last 30 or so days.
The second type of STI’s are viral. In the majority of these cases the infection will be life long but however are treatable. To protect yourself from these STI’s your best option is to use condoms with your partners and have an open channel of communication.
Some viral STI’s include Herpes, HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), Hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS.
Herpes is virus that the vast majority of the population will contract in their life time. A viral based infection spread through skin to skin contact. There are eight types of herpes however, only two of those are spread though sexual contact, HSV-1 and HSV-2. (HSV stands for Herpes Simplex Virus)
One type is mainly oral based and the other is genital based. While herpes can not be cured it can be treated and there are medications that can lower the consistency of the infections and treat the symptoms of the virus. Herpes in a lot of cases can be asymptomatic so during a visual inspection of potential partners will not be a completely accurate test for whether or not they have the virus.
However, not having an active infection lowers the risk of spreading and/or contracting. *Many doctors do not or will not test their patients for Herpes because of the stigma.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is an infection spread through the passing of bodily fluids such as breast milk, blood, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, semen, precum and births. HIV/AIDS is not spread through saliva. This virus kills of white blood cells and weakens the immune system making the person infected more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
HIV is highly preventable through medication PrEP also called Truvada which lowers the risk of someone at risk of catching the virus by 90% if spread sexually and 70% by intravenous (sharing of needles). If you become exposed to the HIV virus you can go within 72 hours of being exposed you can go to the doctor and get medication PEP which is antiretroviral drug that can completely kill off the virus if exposed to it.
*Note: Lambskin condoms do not stop the spread of ANY STI they only stop pregnancy