The Effects of HPV
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HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that takes more than 40 different forms! Learn about them and their effects - including genital warts and cancer - in this video.
Transcript: The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an extremely common viral infection. There are about 40 varieties...
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an extremely common viral infection. There are about 40 varieties that infect the genitals and which can be passed through sexual contact, even if a person is not exhibiting symptoms. Genital HPV's effects on health can be severe and will vary depending on the HPV strain, and by the strength of the patient's immune system. After a person contracts HPV, his or her body develops some immunity to it. That immune response often squashes symptoms should a person be re-infected, or if the infection lingers. Each strain of HPV has a particular effect on the body. The one that causes genital warts, for example, doesn't cause precancerous lesions. But it IS possible to be infected with multiple strains of genital HPV at the same time. Some strains of the virus don't have an impact in the body. With no symptoms, a person may not even know they have HPV. Other strains produce genital warts, which may appear as a single swelling or a rash. These pink or flesh-colored bumps are usually soft to the touch. Most have a unique cauliflower-like shape that is raised and bumpy. Warts can appear on the thighs, anus and groin area in both men and women. Men can develop them on the penis and scrotum, while women may get warts inside the vagina and cervix. Genital warts are generally harmless.However, more severe health problems will follow from infection with one of the 13 "high risk" strains of genital HPV. These strains cause cell changes in the genital area. If someone contracts high-risk strains repeatedly, or develops a lingering infection, the long-term damage can prompt precancerous or cancerous tumor growths to form. In women, persistent genital HPV infections are a precursor to both cervical and vaginal cancers. In fact, a person cannot contract these cancers unless they've had genital HPV. Cervical cancer starts out as a collection of precancerous cells, a condition called dysplasia. As the cells multiply, mild dysplasia increases in severity. Left unchecked for several years, dysplasia develops into an early form of cancer called cervical carcinoma in situ, and then cervical cancer. A Pap smear can detect even mild dysplasia, which usually can be fully treated...This is just one more reason for women to have an annual Pap smear! In rare cases, prolonged infections in men can also lead to penile cancer. Both men and women are also susceptible to cancers of the anus, mouth and throat as a result of repeated infections with the HPV strains targeting these areas. This means that anal and oral sex aren't without HPV risks. If an HPV infection is caught early, a doctor can begin treatments to prevent precancerous growths from becoming cancerous. Genital HPV has no cure, but its symptoms can be treated. For this reason, it's important to talk to your doctor about safe sex and STD testing.More »
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HPV is one of the most common STDs around and Gardisil is here to help. Check out this video to get the dish on Gardasil.
Transcript: Both cervical cancer and genital warts are caused by a sexually transmitted virus called HPV. Today,...
Both cervical cancer and genital warts are caused by a sexually transmitted virus called HPV. Today, there is a vaccine that can protect some from this virus's effects! In 2006, the FDA approved Gardasil, the first vaccine to protect against certain strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Although there are over 100 strains of this virus, only about 40 are harmful. Gardasil protects against four specific strains of HPV, numbers 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts cases, and numbers 16 and 18, which can lead to 70 percent of cervical cancers! Gardasil is approved for use in females between the ages of 9 and 26, although-since the virus is passed sexually-it's best to get vaccinated before ever having intercourse. Even if someone already has one strain of HPV, they can still get the vaccine to protect against the strains they don't have. The vaccine is given as a set of three injections over six months. Gardasil is not fully effective until all three shots are given. Side effects may include redness and itching at the injection site, as well as nausea and fever. If you're interested in getting vaccinated with Gardasil, talk to your health care provider!More »
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Over 50 percent of the adult population experience HPV during their lifetime. However, treatment of HPV is simple and effective. Find out more in this video.
Transcript: The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common STD which affects more than 50 percent of sexually active...
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common STD which affects more than 50 percent of sexually active Americans at some point in their lifetimes. Different strains of the virus lead to different problems, from uncomfortable genital warts to serious genital cancer. Even more commonly, HPV causes no problems and clears up on its own. Through preventative measures, you can limit your risk for contracting genital HPV. This starts with an understanding that a symptom-free partner isn't necessarily HPV-free. That's why it's important to practice protected sex. A latex condom limits skin-to-skin contact, reducing transmission risk. However, condoms are not 100 percent effective at stopping the spread of HPV. Some strains can be passed by contact between parts that would not be protected by a condom. One extremely effective preventative measure, which is only available for women and girls between the ages of nine and 26, is vaccination with Gardasil. This three-part vaccine protects against infection from HPV strains that cause genital warts, cervical cancer, and anal cancer. If a person DOES contract genital HPV, the virus cannot be cured, but the SYMPTOMS often can. Some strains of HPV cause no symptoms and require no treatment, while others need a doctor's care. Genital warts are the most visible symptom of HPV and generally require prescription medication. Applied daily, creams like Condylox and Aldara boost the immune system to help fight off the virus and eliminate the warts. A doctor may also remove warts via an in-office procedure. Freezing with liquid nitrogen, burning with trichloracetic acid or electrical currents, and surgical removal with a scalpel or laser are all relatively painless options. Of these, surgical excision is often the most effective, usually requiring just one in-office treatment. Regular doctor's visits are a must for the effective treatment of high-risk genital HPV strains, which cause precancerous and cancerous growths. Treatment is more effective if the virus is caught early. For women, this means undergoing an annual Pap smear, a test which screens for cervical cancer. HPV can cause cell changes in the cervix, which show up as an abnormal result on this test. There are no screening tests for men, however regular physical examinations can lead to early diagnosis of penile cancer. Following an abnormal Pap smear or visual confirmation of a tumor, a doctor aims to remove the abnormal cells affected by genital HPV BEFORE they become cancerous. How a doctor removes the abnormal cells varies. She may freeze the cells with liquid nitrogen, excise them with an electrical current, or perform a biopsy, where the cells are removed during surgery. On occasion, precancerous cell changes can heal without treatment, so some doctors may opt to watch and wait for a time before attempting to remove the cells. If you're infected with HPV, you are part of the majority! Luckily, treatments are available to help with HPV's range of symptoms, so talk to your doctor about your choices.More »
Last Modified: 2013-04-25 | Tags »
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If you are a sexually active male, then STD testing for men is strongly recommended. Watch this video and learn more about STD testing.
Transcript: The Center for Disease Control doesn't actually suggest routine STD testing for men...but wait! There...
The Center for Disease Control doesn't actually suggest routine STD testing for men...but wait! There are exceptions to every rule. If you're a sexually active male and you're not having any symptoms of an STD, you may not need to be tested. But, if your sex practices include having sex with other men-even once or twice-you do need annual screening, including testing for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Of course, it's also vital that you see your doctor if you're displaying signs of an STD. Doctors recommend getting tested if you have any unusual discharge from the penis. In addition, all warts, growths and blisters call for a check-up. Finally, the CDC recommends one HIV test at some point for all people between the ages of 13 and 64. The only way to be 100 percent protected from STDs is by never having sex-since that's probably not your choice, be smart about knocking boots!More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-15 | Tags »
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STDs affect women differently than they do men, so STD testing is a bit different for them. Get information about STD testing for women in this video.
Transcript: Women need to be tested for certain common STDs on an annual basis. But which ones? If you're a sexually...
Women need to be tested for certain common STDs on an annual basis. But which ones? If you're a sexually active female, it is vital that you get the most common STD test-a pap smear-annually. A pap smear tests for pre-cancerous changes in the cervix that stem from the common STD, HPV or the human papilloma virus. Women who have sex with multiple partners or have symptoms of an STD should also ask for annual testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia. If you test positive for either of these, it's also important to be screened for syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV. That's because having one sexually transmitted disease makes you much more susceptible to contracting another. And, of course, women should always see a doctor for testing should signs of an STD occur. These include unusual discharge and strange growths or ulcerations. Not having sex will unfailingly protect you from STDs, but that's probably not a choice you'll make-so always be safe!More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-15 | Tags »
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Herpes is a contagious condition that affects millions of people in America. Understanding herpes is very important as it can help you manage it better. To know more, check out this video.
Transcript: One in four Americans is infected with the contagious disease known as genital herpes. But what IS herpes,...
One in four Americans is infected with the contagious disease known as genital herpes. But what IS herpes, anyway? Herpes simplex is a contagious viral infection that manifests as sores on the mouth or the genitals. While outbreaks of the sores can be reduced, there is no cure for herpes. And though the virus is generally harmless, it causes embarrassment for those infected, and can increase susceptibility to other STDs like HIV. There are actually two strains of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. While HSV-1 tends to lead to sores on the mouth and HSV-2 usually presents itself on the genitals, either strain can lead to either outbreak. That's because HSV-1 and HSV-2 are markedly similar, so a cold sore on the mouth can easily be spread to the genitals during oral sex, and vice versa. While herpes is generally thought of as a sexually-transmitted disease, this is not always the case. Up to 80 percent of the population is infected with oral herpes, and most of these contract the virus as children. That's because both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are spread by ANY physical contact. This can include touching, kissing, or sexual acts. The briefest of skin-to-skin contact can transmit herpes. Sometimes, herpes has no symptoms, which is why up to a third of people with the virus remain undiagnosed. Remember that just because someone says they've never had a lesion doesn't mean they can't spread herpes! People with genital herpes who DO exhibit symptoms often notice small sores on the genitals, usually in a cluster. Other times, symptoms can be as subtle as a mild irritation. In an oral herpes outbreak, a cold sore, or "fever blister," will show up on the lips or around the mouth in a similar fashion. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, aches and pains, or a headache. Regardless of the location, a herpes outbreak tends to start with red, "tingly" skin. In a day or two, sores will appear, although most outbreaks will clear in one to two weeks. So if herpes is forever, does that mean that a person will always have blisters on his or her body? Not at all! Herpes is a virus and will remain in the body for life. But the physical symptoms of herpes, an outbreak of sores, may recur anywhere from often to almost never. An outbreak can be triggered by factors such as illness, stress, diet, menstruation, or skin irritation. Every person's triggers are different, and some people have none. The bottom line is that whether you're having a herpes outbreak or not, once you get the virus, you will ALWAYS have it. For this reason, you should refrain from any sexual contact during an outbreak and practice protected sex at ALL times. It is also important to keep in mind that while a condom can reduce the spread, the only guaranteed way to prevent genital herpes is with abstinence. Herpes simplex is contagious and common! Fifty million genital cases exist in the United States, alone. So talk to your doctor about the prevention and treatment of herpes.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-04 | Tags »
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If you have genital herpes, medication options and lifestyle changes can clear up a current outbreak of sores while also preventing new ones from occurring!
Transcript: If you have herpes, you aren't alone. 500,00 of this contagious disease are diagnosed every year. So...
If you have herpes, you aren't alone. 500,00 of this contagious disease are diagnosed every year. So what happens after your diagnosis? Once you are diagnosed with the sexually-transmitted virus sex, your doctor will focus on several things: Clearing up your sores and preventing new ones from developing, counseling you regarding how to prevent its spread, and offering testing for other STDs. While herpes can manifest itself as sores on the mouth or eruptions on the genitals, the later is the focus of aggressive treatment. During a genital herpes outbreak...AND in the seven days following...it is important to abstain from all sexual acts, as the virus is particularly contagious at this time. However, genital herpes can be contagious at all times, even when a lesion isn't present. To promote the fastest healing of the blisters, don't pop or touch them and wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear and clothing. You should also be sure to wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch your genitals, to avoid spreading the virus to other people or to other parts of your body. During a herpes outbreak, your doctor will generally provide one of three antiviral medications to help speed healing time: Zovirax, Famvir or Valtrex. Each of these medications, which are taken orally, work to prevent the DNA-replication of the virus that keeps herpes active. After the first treatment, your doctor will work with you to come up with the best way to treat and prevent recurring outbreaks of genital herpes. Sometimes, your doctor will prescribe an intermittent treatment, whereby you'll keep an antiviral medication on hand and begin taking it when you feel the onset of an outbreak. If you have outbreaks more than six times a year, or if you wish to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to your partner, your doctor may recommend suppressive treatment, where you take an antiviral medication every day to reduce the likelihood of developing sores. Aside from medication, your doctor may recommend some easy lifestyle changes that can help reduce occurrences of outbreaks. Eating a diet high in the amino acid lysine and low in the amino acid arginine has been shown to lower the frequency of outbreaks. Foods like yogurt, cheese, bean sprouts, fish, and chicken all meet this criterion. Many people experience "triggers" that can lead to a herpes outbreak. Some common examples include extreme stress, exposure to sunlight, illness, intense sexual activity, or even certain foods, like chocolate. It may help to take note of what factors seem to trigger your attacks, and to avoid them whenever possible. Protect your partner from the spread of the disease by using a condom and taking antiviral medications. But note that while this combination affords better protection than condom use alone, the only guarantee against genital herpes transmission is abstinence. If you're one of the millions of Americans who has genital herpes, please talk to your doctor about the treatment option that is right for you.More »
Last Modified: 2014-02-24 | Tags »
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If you think you've been exposed to syphilis, you'll want to know everything you can about it. Check out this video for a guide to understanding syphilis.
Transcript: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria known as treponema pallidum. Syphilis is...
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria known as treponema pallidum. Syphilis is curable, but if allowed to progress without treatment, it can result in serious illness or death. Syphilis has been around for centuries, and has infected some of history's most famous individuals. Eighteenth-century composer Franz Schubert, England's King Henry the eighth, and 1920s gangster Al Capone were all infected with deadly cases of syphilis. Today, the bacterium spreads the same way it always has: Through direct contact with a syphilis sore, which are usually located on the genitals. For this reason, syphilis is almost always passed sexually, although a pregnant woman infected with syphilis may also pass it to her baby. Once a person contracts syphilis, the disease goes through three stages. The first, or primary, stage is marked by the appearance of a single sore, or chancre, about 20 days after infection. This painless lesion appears where syphilis was contracted. Within a week or two, the chancre usually heals on its own, but a syphilis lesion increases the risk that a person can contract HIV by 5 times, so abstaining from sex at this point is VITAL. After the chancre heals, the secondary stage of syphilis begins. At this point, a painless red or brown rash may appear on the body, especially on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. The secondary stage is also characterized by flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and aching muscles. Because these symptoms are often indistinguishable from other diseases, syphilis is known as "the great imitator." But these "imitation" symptoms will usually resolve themselves without treatment within a few weeks. The final, or latent, stage of syphilis begins when secondary symptoms abate. At this point, there are generally no outward signs of syphilis, but the bacterium continues to thrive internally. If syphilis is not treated, it will spread to other organs, resulting in neurological problems, like a stroke, paralysis, deafness, or dementia. Cardiovascular difficulties, like inflammation of the heart's major artery, the aorta, may also follow from untreated syphilis. Eventually, these conditions can lead to death. The good news is that penicillin has been found to be a safe, effective treatment for this disease. A muscular injection of penicillin, sometimes with booster shots, is all that is needed to kill the bacterium that leads to syphilis. For people who are allergic to penicillin, a course of antibiotics may be taken to kill the bacteria, but damage already done by the disease cannot be reversed. Your doctor will follow up with blood tests to be sure that the medication is working. Pregnant women will be tested more frequently to ensure a return to health, as syphilis can cause death in newborns. Syphilis is on the rise among men who have sex with men in the United States, and among teenagers, who are more likely than ever to practice oral sex, so talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check for this disease.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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If you are living with an STD, you may be feeing many emotions. Watch this video to learn more about treatments and medications.
Transcript: You've just received your test results...and you have a sexually transmitted disease. While some STDs...
You've just received your test results...and you have a sexually transmitted disease. While some STDs can be cured quickly, and many can be treated, the emotions that follow may be tougher to face. First and foremost, know that having an STD does not make you "bad" or "dirty." STDs result from bacteria, viruses or parasites that are passed from one person to another. What this means is that SOMEONE ELSE passed an STD on to you. You "caught" it from a partner, much as you might catch the chicken pox! Once you are diagnosed with an STD, you'll talk to your doctor about the next steps. Some STDs, like syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics, which means they will no longer live in your body. Other STDs will remain in your body for a lifetime, but their symptoms can be treated. These diseases include, but are not limited to, HPV, or genital warts and HSV, or herpes. If you have a "forever" STD, you may need to take medication either daily, or when your infection is active, for the rest of your life. You must also be aware that having one STD makes you much more vulnerable to infections from others. For this reason, it's vital that you engage in regular STD screening. There's another person you'll need to talk to, and that's your partner. Having sex without disclosing your STD status to him or her is not acceptable. You may be worried about the reaction you'll receive, but you need to remember that your partner deserves the opportunity to know his or her risk in sleeping with you. If you DO decide to have sexual relations while infected with an STD, it is vital to use protection, EVERY TIME. Aside from abstinence, the only method that can help to protect against STD transmission is the male latex condom, or the female condom. While these methods will offer SOME protection against the transfer of STDs, realize that they are NOT 100 percent effective, and an infection can still be transferred while using them. STDs that have physical symptoms, such as genital warts and herpes, are much more likely to be spread when a person is having an outbreak. For this reason, you might want to stick to cuddling when you're experiencing STD lesions. But as with all STDs, those that produce lesions can be infectious, even when an outbreak is not present. ... yet another good case for using a condom! If you're one of the millions of Americans living with an STD, you may find it helpful to reach out to a support group in your area. Individual and couples counseling may also help. Living with an STD can be frustrating, but it does not have to stop you from having a healthy, fulfilling sex life. Remember to talk to your doctor AND your partner about the best way to prevent transmitting STDs.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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Would you know if you had Chlamydia? Check out this video to get the basics on Chlamydia.
Transcript: Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by...
Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by the transmission of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can spread to both the male and female sex organs, as well to as the rectum, urinary tract, eyes, and throat, of both genders. This disease is passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or from mother to child during birth. Chlamydia is particularly frightening because three out of four women and one out of two men who are infected have NO symptoms at all...and do not know that they have Chlamydia. If symptoms ARE present, women and men may both experience unusual discharge from their genitals, pain while urinating or defecating, or rectal discharge. Because these symptoms are nonspecific and very rare, it is recommended that ALL sexually active people, be tested regularly for Chlamydia, particularly prior to having sex with a new partner. A doctor can test for the disease with a urine sample or cervical swab. If this lab test comes back positive, additional STD tests should be conducted, as having Chlamydia suggests a likelihood of additional infections. It is very important that the infected individual and ALL current partners begin treatment with antibiotics immediately. The two most common ways to treat Chlamydia are a one-time dose of azithromycin, or twice daily doses of doxycycline for a week. These medications are 95 percent effective at killing off the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, and that's vital...because left untreated, Chlamydia can cause irreversible damage. In women, infection can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This condition can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility. PID also increases the chance that a woman will develop an ectopic pregnancy, whereby a fertilized egg is implanted, not in the womb, but in a fallopian tube. This can cause the tube to rupture, potentially resulting in death. An infected woman can also pass the bacterium on to her baby. This can lead to potentially fatal Chlamydial pneumonia or to potentially blinding neonatal conjunctivitis. Women who have Chlamydia are also 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if exposed to it. Men do not usually experience any effects of Chlamydia. However, the disease CAN spread to the testicles, possibly resulting in infertility. On rare occasions, untreated Chlamydia can cause reactive arthritis, a disease that may lead to permanent disability. While knowing the possible effects of Chlamydia is important, it's even more important to take preventative action against the disease. Do so by getting tested regularly for Chlamydia and using male latex condoms. Chlamydia's common occurrence, infrequent side effects, and serious consequences all mean that you should talk to your doctor about getting tested if you are at risk.More »
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Did you know that Trichomoniasis affects millions of people every year in the United States? Check out our video and find out more about this infection.
Transcript: Trichomoniasis vaginitis, more commonly known as "trich," is a curable, sexually transmitted infection...
Trichomoniasis vaginitis, more commonly known as "trich," is a curable, sexually transmitted infection which affects 7 million Americans annually. While both men and women can catch Trichomoniasis, women are infected with more frequency. Trichomoniasis is caused by the passing of a single-celled, microscopic parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is transmitted most frequently through sexual contact, either via heterosexual intercourse, or by women who have sex with women. On rare occasions, Trichomoniasis, which can live outside the body for up to 45 minutes, may be passed through shared towels. When a man contracts Trichomoniasis, he will usually be asymptomatic and unaware. If symptoms ARE present, he may experience painful urination or whitish discharge from the penis. Women are symptomatic about 80 percent of the time, but this still means that one in five will have NO symptoms. Female Trichomoniasis may manifest as discomfort during intercourse, vaginal itching, and a pus-like, malodorous discharge that may be yellow or green. If a woman has symptoms of Trichomoniasis, or suspects she may have been exposed to the parasite, she should see her doctor for a pelvic examination and additional STD testing. Tests for Trichomoniasis may include a vaginal swab that is sent to a lab for diagnosis, or a 'wet prep,' which is a swab that is examined under a microscope in a doctor's office for immediate diagnosis. If the test is positive, it's very important to receive treatment. This is because genital inflammation can increase a woman's susceptibility to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It also increases the likelihood that an HIV-infected woman will pass the virus on. In addition, some studies have shown that the trichomonas vaginalis protozoan may be linked to infertility in both genders. These consequences can generally be avoided if Trichomoniasis is diagnosed early and treated with the prescription drug metronidazole, which is marketed as Flagyl, or with the recently-approved drug Tindamax. It's important not to consume alcohol during the 24 hours after Flagyl treatment, or the 72 hours following Tindamax treatment. In the case of pregnant women with symptomatic Trichomoniasis, an alternate medication, called clotrimazole, may be inserted into the vagina to decrease discomfort. Following diagnosis, a patient's partner should also be treated to ensure that the disease isn't passed back and forth. During treatment, and until symptoms abate, sex should be avoided. In addition, both partners should be tested for other STDs, because co-infection can often occur. Of course, it is much preferred to prevent Trichomoniasis all together. As with all sexually transmitted infections, the surest way to do this is to abstain from all sexual contact. People who ARE sexually active may also use a male latex condom to reduce the likelihood of spreading Trichomoniasis vaginitis. Trichomoniasis affects 200 million people worldwide each year! Therefore, it's important to talk to your doctor and your partner about appropriate testing and safer sexual practices.More »
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You can get a complete STD test through your insurance plan if you are covered. Check out our video to find out more about STD testing.
Transcript: You've been going to the doctor your whole life so you've probably been tested for stds before... Right?...
You've been going to the doctor your whole life so you've probably been tested for stds before... Right? Most doctors won't test you for stdsif you don't specifically ask and not every doctor will test for every disease. that is why you must initiate the std talk with your doctor. Ask what he or she screens for in an std test. A comprehensive test includes HIV herpes, syphilis Hepatitis B Hepatits C Gonorrhea, Chlamydia. Women can also request an HPV test. Keep in mind that the two most common stds, herpes and hpv are the two which doctors test for with the least frequency. Most insurance plans will cover std testing but it is also possible to obtain inexpensive or free testing from government fundedand independent testing clinics.More »
Last Modified: 2013-03-14 | Tags »
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Heterosexual women are one of the fastest growing groups among new HIV infections. Watch this to see how the virus affects them.
Transcript: Of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and AIDS, most are men. But in the past 30 years the number...
Of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and AIDS, most are men. But in the past 30 years the number of women affected has increased. In 2010 alone, there were a quarter of a million women in the US living with HIV. Most were infected through heterosexual sex or injection drug abuse.Women are particularly susceptible to HIV and STD infection because mucous membranes lining the vagina and cervix provide a large surface area for transmission. Other particularly female risk factors include menstruation and pregnancy, with its changing hormone levels and impact on the immune system. During menstruation, monthly fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels before each period, result in a cyclic thinning of vaginal and cervical tissue, which increases transmission risk. Estrogen and progesterone also affect how HIV reacts in the body. During the first 3 to 5 years of infection, those hormones cause women to have lower viral loads than men with the same, or similar, CD4 counts. Women also may experience different side effects from HIV medications than men, because of a generally lower body weight, a higher percentage of body fat, and different hormones. For example, the protease inhibitor ritonavir causes more nausea and vomiting in women, but less diarrhea than in men. Some studies indicate women are more susceptible to rashes, fat buildup, and problems with the pancreas and liver. Typically, women also have a tougher time sticking to their HIV medication regimen than men. The reasons here vary, but a large percentage of HIV positive women are single mothers and economically disadvantaged. These challenges, in addition to uncomfortable side effects, can make it hard to stick to a treatment plan. But when women DO adhere to their treatment, they can live as long as, and with as FEW complications, as men. For more information on living with HIV, check out other videos in this series.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-21 | Tags »
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