Could I Have A Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)?
|DISEASE||CAUSE||ESTIMATE OF CASES PER YEAR (U.S.)*||SYMPTOMS||TREATMENT||CONSEQUENCE||EASE OF SPREAD **||CONDOM EFFECTIVENESS (for vaginal intercourse) ***|
|Gonorrhea||Bacteria||1 million per year||Painful urination, urethral discharge, painful sex, or no symptoms||Antibiotics||Ectopic pregnancy, sterility, severe pelvic infection||Easy||Some protection for men, no proven protection for women|
|Syphilis||Bacteria||70,000||Painless lump, or no symptoms||Injectable antibiotics||Brain damage, spinal cord damage, heart injury, death||Moderate||No proven protection with condoms|
|Chlamydia||Bacteria||3,000,000||Painful urination, discharge, high number of infections without symptoms||Antibiotics||Ectopic pregnancy, sterility, severe pelvic infection||Easy||No proven protection with condoms|
|Herpes simplex||Virus||1,000,000||Painful, grouped vesicles, resolve without treatment, return periodically, high number of infections without symptoms||Incurable, permanent infection, ointments or antibiotics to shorten outbreaks||Painful intercourse, serious and life-threatening infection of newborn babies||Easy||No proven protection with condoms|
|Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome||Virus||40,000||Fatigue, recurrent mild illness, pneumonia, high number of infections without symptoms||Incurable, permanent infection, medications prolong life and control symptoms but do not cure||Life-threatening pneumonias, intestinal infections, nervous disorders, cancers||Difficult||Studies document 85% effectiveness, but study methodology may have inflated this figure|
|Hepatitis B||Virus||120,000||Jaundice, malaise, nausea and vomiting, or no symptoms||Vaccine before exposure is 90% effective||90% recover without consequence. Chronic illness, carrier state, liver failure, death||Moderate||Condoms not shown to be effective|
|Human Papilloma virus||Virus||5,500,000||Warts, most infections are without symptoms||Caustic chemicals, laser, creams, hysterectomy, colon removal||80% recover without consequence. Genital warts, cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer||Easy||Condoms shown ineffective|
|Molluscum contagiosum||Virus||Bumps in genital area||None, self resolving over weeks or months||None||Easy||Condoms not shown to be effective|
|Hepatitis C||Virus||Jaundice, fatigue, itching, or no symptoms||Interferon||Liver failure, cirrhosis, death||Difficult|
* Some cases are reportable to public health entities. Others are not. Some of the statistics refer to the number of reported cases. Others are estimated cases. It is well known that even in the case of reportable diseases, the numbers are far under the actual frequency of infection. Some of the estimates are from a CDC report entitled, “Tracking the Hidden Epidemics: Trends in STDs in the United States 2000″. This is available on the internet at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/dstd/Stats_Trends/Trends2000.pdf.
** Many of these diseases can be spread by sexual as well as non-sexual routes.
*** Much of the condom effectiveness data is available in an NIH document, entitled: Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention. This is available on the internet at: www.naid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/condomreport.pdf. Generally the effectiveness estimates refer to consistent and correct condom usage, which is not often achieved.
Draft March 2002 by John Diggs, MD and Nancy Couch, MD
Facts About STD’s
- One in four people have an STD.
- 35 – 50 different kinds of STD’s exist
- 80% of those infected with an STD do not develop the initial symptoms.
- STD’s are contagious even though no symptoms exist
- Some STD’s (such as genital herpes and genital warts) are incurable.