Do You Know About Incurable STDs?
People who know they have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) often hide their infection from their partners, while some might not know they have an STD until they show symptoms. Incurable sexually transmitted diseases are among the most difficult conditions to control. And untreatable STDs can get passed to partners or fetuses in infected pregnant women.
The List of Incurable STDs is Thankfully Short
There are four untreatable STDs: Hepatitis B, herpes, HIV (human immunodeficiency syndrome), and HPV (human papillomavirus). All are caused by viruses. Two of them — hepatitis B and HIV — can also be transmitted by sharing intravenous drugs. Hepatitis B, herpes, and HIV can also be transmitted to an infant during birth.
- Hepatitis affects the liver and can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). Both are fatal. There are three kinds of hepatitis: A, B, and C. All can be passed along through sexual intimacy (not just intercourse), but only Hepatitis B can’t be cured.
- Herpes is spread through intimate contact. HSV-2, or genital herpes, manifests as blisters and sores around the rectum and genitals. Another form of herpes, HSV-1, is spread by saliva and often leaves cold sores. It can also cause genital herpes.
- HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which weakens the immune system and leaves a person very susceptible to a variety of illnesses, sexually transmitted through body fluids (semen, vaginal secretions).
- HPV is a virus that causes genital warts, cervical cancer, and oral cancer. Both cancers can be fatal.
These viruses can be controlled by medications. In the case of HIV, they have greatly reduced the number of deaths caused by AIDS. Infants have been given a Hepatitis B vaccine at birth since 1991, and there is now a vaccine to protect uninfected children and young people against HPV.
Herpes and HPV are very common in the U.S. and around the world. Healthline reports that 500 million people worldwide have herpes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 80 million Americans — nine in ten! — are infected with HPV.
Curable STDs are Bacterial
So, which STDs are curable? STDs caused by bacterial infections can be treated.
Keep in mind that people with treatable STDs aren’t always cured. Early treatment is extremely important. Someone with advanced syphilis is still at risk for brain and heart damage, even when treatment has been started.
LiveScience reports that chlamydia is the most-reported STD in the U.S. Like many STDs, it doesn’t show symptoms until it’s progressed, often as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or infertility in women. In men, it can infect the urethra, making urination painful. There may be a discharge from the penis. It can also cause pain in the testicles from epididymitis, an infection of the tube that stores and carries sperm.
Gonorrhea is another common bacterial STD. Men and women who get it often feel pain while urinating. If left untreated, it can lead to PID in women and ectopic pregnancy, in which the fetus grows outside the womb, a fatal condition to both fetus and the woman. Men can develop epididymitis. It can spread to the rectum in both sexes and cause itching, bleeding, and a pus-like discharge.
Both these STDs are most commonly found in young adults ages 15-24. They can both be treated with antibiotics, although the CDC warns that gonorrhea is becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Are you concerned about symptoms that might be caused by an STD? Get checked out by a medical professional who can prescribe the right medicine to treat or control your condition. Call our Urgent Care Clinic today, at (561) 264-6208.