The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases
STDs are some of the most difficult diseases to catch. You have to be up close and personal to spread them. So why are STDs so common? The answer may be that people don’t know how to recognize, treat, and prevent them. Or when they do, they often don’t do so effectively.
This article explores some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. It also discusses their causes and symptoms.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
Not all diseases that affect the sex organs are considered STDs. In fact, some are not related to sex at all. Others aren’t transmitted during sex, but occur as a result of it.
Here are some common STDs and diseases associated with sex, along with their symptoms.
Tips For Preventing Transmission Through Sex
If youre sexually active with a person who has hepatitis C, there are ways that you can prevent contracting the virus. Likewise, if you have the virus, you can avoid infecting others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during every sexual contact, including oral sex
- learning to use all barrier devices correctly to prevent ripping or tearing during intercourse
- resisting engaging in sexual contact when either partner has an open cut or wound in their genitals
- being tested for STIs and asking sexual partners to be tested too
- practicing sexual monogamy
- using extra precautions if youre HIV-positive, as your chance of contracting HCV is much higher if you have HIV
If you have hepatitis C, you should be honest with all sexual partners about your status. This ensures that youre both taking the proper precautions to prevent transmission.
How Is Hepatitis C Infection Prevented
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. To reduce your risk of getting hepatitis C:
- Injection drug use is the most common way people get hepatitis C. Avoid injecting drugs to reduce your risk. If you do inject drugs, use sterile injection equipment. Avoid reusing or sharing.
- Avoid sharing personal care items that might have blood on them
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, follow universal blood/body fluid precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture are the instruments properly sterilized?
- If youre having sex with more than one partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including hepatitis C.
Staying Healthy With Hepatitis
Not everyone needs treatment right away, but its important to be monitored regularly by an experienced doctor and discuss treatment options of the best way to keep you healthy.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits try to stay away from too much salt, sugar and fat.
- Exercise regularly. Walking is one of the best exercises, and it helps to make you feel less tired.
- Check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.
- Do not share razors, nail clippers, needles or other items that come in contact with blood with other people.
Is Hepatitis B An Std
30 Nov 2021
- Written by Dr. Andrea Pinto on 01 December 2021
Hepatitis B is a cause of viral hepatitis, which is an acute condition that can affect your liver. In some cases, acute hepatitis will progress and become chronic hepatitis, which can cause different health complications. There are many different ways to get hepatitis, including sexual transmission. So, is hepatitis B considered to be a sexually transmitted infection ?
Keep reading to find out if hepatitis B is an STD.
Also Check: How Can Hepatitis C Be Transmitted
What Is Viral Hepatitis
Viral Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. The most common types areHepatitis A , Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C . If untreated, hepatitis can cause liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.
Hepatitis is a serious liver disease that can be spread through sex with an infected person. Men who have sexual contact with other men are at increased risk for both Hepatitis A and B. But protecting yourself is easy. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. Call your local health department for more information.
Did you know
- Hepatitis is called the silent killer because a person may carry the virus in their body for up to 6 months without having any symptoms.
- CDC estimates that 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis most dont know theyre infected.
- According to the CDC, HBV is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV and can be passed through sexual intercourse.
Are you at risk?
Although anyone can contract Hepatitis, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:
- Have sexual contact with an infected person
- Have multiple sex partners
- Have a sexually transmitted disease
- Are men who have sexual encounters with other men
- Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment
- Live with a person who has Hepatitis
- Are on hemodialysis
- Are exposed to blood on the job
- Are infants born to infected mothers
Click here to take the online assessment quiz to see if youre at risk.
How Is Hepatitis B Transmitted
Despite the fact that hepatitis B is considered to be an STI, you can still get this virus through other routes of transmission. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the ways in which hepatitis B can be spread include:
- Loss of appetite
According to Avert, most cases of acute hepatitis B will go away on their own within a few months. In rare cases, acute hepatitis B can be fatal. But if hepatitis B doesnt resolve itself within six months, it can progress to chronic hepatitis.
Chronic hepatitis B can become a lifelong disease, and it can lead to health complications such as:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Liver failure
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Can Hepatitis C Be Spread During Vaginal Sex
Its rare for the hepatitis C virus to be transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Unless the vaginal walls arent lubricated or intercourse is very rough and leads to tears in the vaginal wall, theres no opportunity for blood to be exchanged. The risk for transmission with vaginal intercourse is about 1 in 190,000, according to research published in the March 2013 issue of the journal Hepatology.
Research published in the Journal of Coagulation Disorders in March 2014 reinforces these findings, emphasizing that transmission of the hepatitis C virus by sex in monogamous heterosexual couples is rare. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that couples in monogamous heterosexual relationships do not need to use condoms routinely, even if one partner has hepatitis C. Concerned couples, however, can discuss using a condom to lower the already very low risk of spreading the virus, says Talal.
Just how safe sex is when a partner has hepatitis C hinges on some other factors as well. For example, its important to use a new condom with each sexual act that has the potential to expose the uninfected partner to the infected persons blood, even if youre in a committed relationship, says the CDC. Some of these situations include sex when you or your partner:
- Has an open cut or sore
- Has another sexually transmitted infection , especially one that causes sores or lesions
- Is having her menstrual period
General Tips For Prevention
Refrain from engaging in IV drug use and be cautious with all procedures that involve needles.
For example, you shouldnt share needles used for tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture. The equipment should always be carefully sterilized for safety. If youre undergoing any of these procedures in another country, always make sure the equipment is sterilized.
Sterile equipment should also be used in a medical or dental setting.
Read Also: Hepatitis C Transmission Routes Cdc
But Even If You’ve Been Cured It Can Have Lifelong Health Implications
“Hepatitis C is a lot more than just a liver disease,” Reau says. “It has been associated with many medical conditions, such as an increased risk of developing diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.”
While curing hepatitis C significantly reduces the risk of serious complications, like liver failure, liver cancer and the need for transplantation, it doesn’t completely eliminate the health risks associated with the disease.
“Hep C is linked to scarring of the liver or cirrhosis and the more scar tissue that develops, the greater the likelihood of complications,” Reau says. “If there is a lot of scarring, you will need lifelong monitoring.”
Reau also recommends leading a healthy lifestyle to help prevent re-infection and further liver damage: Limit alcohol consumption, control your weight, avoid high-risk activities and manage diabetes if you have it.
What Is The Difference Between Hepatitis A B And C
There are many different types of hepatitis including the most commonly seen types of A, B and C. The spread of hepatitis A and B are widely controlled through vaccination efforts, but there is no hepatitis C vaccine. Hepatitis A is contracted most commonly through contact with objects like food and beverage that are contaminated with the fecal matter of infected individuals. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person such as blood, semen and saliva.
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Can Hepatitis C Be Cured
If a patient is diagnosed with hepatitis C, treatment is usually a combination of two antiviral drugs: interferon and ribavirin to protect existing healthy cells from further infection.
Many people wonder is hepatitis C curable? According to Cedars Sinai, more than 50 percent of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C will be cured of the disease.
Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment
Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.
In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.
Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.
Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.
Also Check: Hepatitis C And Liver Disease
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
During the acute phase most persons have no symptoms or might experience a mild illness. Symptoms of acute HCV infection, when present, may include:
- Dark-colored urine, light-colored stools
During the chronic phase hepatitis C usually progresses silently, with no symptoms at all during the first 10-20 years. Signs of severe liver scarring may include:
- Star-shaped vein pattern developing on the swollen belly
- Easy bruising and bleeding
Because symptoms of hepatitis C are usually absent, persons with risk for HCV infection should be tested. The blood test for hepatitis C infection is called the hepatitis C antibody test. People who have hepatitis C infection will show positive antibodies on this test. In many cases, it is necessary to confirm a positive hepatitis C antibody test with a more specific test, such as a test for HCV virus RNA.
If you think you have hepatitis C or have risk for hepatitis C, you should contact your doctor. The Communicable Disease Control Unit may be able to help answer your questions.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed And Tested
Diagnosis of the type C hepatitis virus is essential to the long-term health of those infected with the illness. If you suspect that you have been infected a blood test can determine whether or not you have the disease. Blood tests can also measure the amount of virus present in your blood stream and determine the genotype of your virus, which can be useful in determining which hepatitis C treatment will be most effective for you.
Doctors may also recommend that you have a liver biopsy done if they believe you have been infected by hepatitis type C. This procedure involves a small needle being inserted through your skin and into your liver so a small sample tissue can be extracted. This tissue sample is then sent for laboratory testing. This testing can help determine the severity of the disease and help guide doctors toward the most appropriate treatment options.
Recommended Reading: Life Insurance For Hepatitis B Carrier
How Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C Spread From Person To Person
Like HIV, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses spread:
- From mother to child: Pregnant women can pass these infections to their infants. HIV-HCV coinfection increases the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby.
- Sexually: Both viruses can also be transmitted sexually, but HBV is much more likely than HCV to be transmitted sexually. Sexual transmission of HCV is most likely to happen among gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV.
Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
“The hepatitis C virus didn’t have a name or a screening test until in 1989,” Reau says. “That means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as ‘baby boomers,’ are at highest risk of infection. They grew up before health care facilities started taking standard precautions, like not sharing vials of medicine among patients and requiring staff to wear gloves.”
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of those living with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviors like IV drug use or unprotected sex
- Your biological mother has/had hepatitis C
- You received blood transfusions, an organ transplant or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently incarcerated
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Building Healthy Sexual Relationships
Rule number one for a healthy sexual relationship: Be open and honest with your partners. I believe in transparency, says Talal. This conversation can be difficult, but its important to have. Part of discussing your status is talking about what exposure you may have had to hepatitis C, even in the distant past.
Its a good opportunity for you both to share your sexual history, as well as your experiences with other ways hepatitis C can be transmitted, such as using injection drugs or being exposed to items that may have blood on them, including needles, razors, and toothbrushes.
Sherman explains that even if you consistently use condoms during sex, other activities, such as sharing needles to inject drugs or sharing straws to snort them, increase your risk of spreading hepatitis C. People do not want to hear about this, he says. Its difficult to get the word out about risk.
If you and your partner find that hepatitis C is disrupting your relationship or your sex life, you might also consider working with a marriage and family therapist or a sex therapist.
It’s Different Than Hepatitis A And B
Each form of hepatitis has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated differently. “Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, or that the virus has an affinity for hurting the liver,” Reau says.
- Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term infection that often does not require treatment.
- Hepatitis B hides deep in the body and, like hepatitis C, is treated in a variety of ways, from antiviral medications to liver transplants.
“The viruses are different, but all of them should be taken very seriously since they can lead to significant liver disease and even death,” she adds.
Also Check: How Can Hepatitis Be Transmitted
How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis C
Determining whether or not you have a Hep C infection can be difficult because the infection doesnt usually produce symptoms in its early stages. When a person does end up having hepatitis C after exposure, the symptoms and signs mimic the symptoms of a flu and are so mild that they dont sound any alarm bells. These symptoms can appear anywhere from two weeks, to six months after being exposed to the disease. The average time from exposure to the onset of symptoms in between is six to nine weeks. The only way to know whether or not you have been infected is to get your blood tested from your doctor.
What Are The Chances Of Getting Hep C Sexually
Hepatitis C spreads by contact with an infected persons blood. Although uncommon, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, if the person has genital sores and cuts. It can also be transmitted during menstruation. However, just 2% of hepatitis C cases are sexually transmitted.
The risk of getting hepatitis C sexually increases in the following situations:
- Men who have sex with men
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis B Foundation Drug Watch