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Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts

young people and STDs

Type of Infection: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Prevalence of HIV: HIV is a global pandemic, affecting 40 million people globally. Worldwide, HIV victims are women and men in almost equal numbers. In the US, women of color are disproportionately affected. More about African Americans and Hispanic Americans with HIV...

Modes of Transmission for HIV: Vaginal, oral and especially anal sex; infected blood or blood products; sharing drug needles with an infected person; and from infected mother to infant in utero, during birth, or while breastfeeding.


Factiod about HIV: Did you know that male circumcision makes acquiring and transmitting HIV less likely? Uncircumcised males are more likely to harbor pathogens in the foreskin.

Symptoms of HIV: Some people experience no symptoms when first infected. Others have flu-like symptoms including fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes. The symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month, and the virus can remain dormant for years. However, it continues to weaken the immune system, leaving the individual increasingly unable to fight opportunistic infections.

Treatment of HIV: There is no known cure. Antiviral drugs are used to prolong the life and health of the infected person. Other treatments are used to combat opportunistic infections.

Possible Consequences of HIV for the Infected Person: Virtually everyone who becomes infected with HIV will eventually develop AIDS and die of AIDS-related complications.

Possible Consequences of HIV for the Fetus and Newborn: One quarter of infants born to infected mothers are HIV infected and develop symptoms of AIDS within one year after birth. These infections usually occur during birth, but can be caused by breastfeeding. Antiviral drugs given during pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk to the fetus of contracting HIV to 2% or less,. This is why the US Public Health Service recommends that all pregnant women be tested.

Prevention of HIV: Abstaining from sex with an infected person, especially anal sex, where body fluids, blood, semen or vaginal secretions are likely to be exchanged, is the only 100% effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Latex condoms for men and female condoms can reduce but not eliminate the risk of contracting the disease during sex. Spermicides do not protect users from HIV and can actually facilitate contracting the virus. Avoid illicit IV drug use and sharing drug needles. Discuss with health care providers precautions that are taken to avoid transmission of HIV, especially when receiving blood products or blood transfusion.

Learn More About HIV: Learn more about HIV symptoms at Epigee Women's Health site.

Source: W Cates, "Reproductive Tract Infections," In Hatcher et al, Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2005.
Source of Photos: Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Image Library (PHIL), phil.cdc.gov/phil. ABC News, Suffer the Children: The Smallest Victims of AIDS, a.abcnews.com/Health. NIH, The History of Medicine Division, Prints and Photographs Collection, profiles.nlm.nih.gov/VC/B/B/H/G/_/vcbbhg.jpg. Hardin MD/University of Iowa and CDC, PHIL, www.lib.uiowa.edu/Hardin/md/cdc/6061.html.