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STD Center 
STD Facts 
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Questions about transmission

1.  How are STD spread?

There are 3 main ways STD can be spread:

Sexually - This is the most common method of transmission. Infection is transmitted through infected body fluids, for example, vaginal secretions and semen. By definition, all STD can be spread sexually.

Through blood contact - Only some STD can be spread this way. Examples are Hepatitis B, syphilis and AIDS. This form of transmission occurs most commonly through intravenous drug abuse when a person shares needles and syringes with infected persons. Infection through blood transfusions is very rare now that blood banks routinely screen all donated blood for evidence of infection and discard any blood found to be contaminated.

From an infected mother to her child - Several STD can be transmitted this way. Some examples are gonorrhoea, chlamydia infection, syphilis, herpes, warts and AIDS .

2.  Can STD be spread through casual and social (non-sexual) contact?

STD germs are specially adapted fro transmission during intimate and prolonged bodily contact, for example during sex. STD cannot be contracted through shaking hands, from toilet seats and swimming pools or by being in the same room with an infected person. Social dissing and hugging is safe.

3.  Can STD germs live outside the body?

STD germs are specially adapted for living inside or on the human body and die rapidly away from the body. This is why prolonged bodily contact is necessary for transmission.

4.  Does heat and household disinfectants kill STD germs?

Yes, STD germs are fragile and do not withstand extremes of temperature, dryness or disinfectants.

5.  Can STD be caused by excessive straining, for example lifting heavy objects?

Some people use this as an excuse because they are to embarassed to admit sexual exposure. STD cannot occur through this and there is no need to feel embarassed about telling the doctor the truth.

6.  Can a person have STD more than once?

Immunity does not develop after STD, with the sole exception of Hepatitis B. You can contact the same STD several times.

7.  What is the chance of contracting STD when I have sex with an infected person?

The exact risk of contracting STD after sexual intercourse with an infcted person has not been worked out for all STD. In the case of gonorrhoea, it has been estimated that a man has a 20% risk per intercourse of contracting infection from an infected woman. In other words, the risk is 80% if he has sex 4 times with the same person. Therefore, the more times a person has sex, the greater the risk. Although the risk of a single exposure may seem small, there is no sense in taking chances. With fatal STD such as AIDS around, you must be extremely careful..

8.  Can masturbation cause STD?

Self masturbation is entirely safe. Mutual masturbation is also safe provided you keep secretions away from orifices (openings) such as the vagina, urethra (urine pipe), anus and mouth and from cuts and sores.

9.  How soon can a person transmit infection after exposure?

Theoretically, immediately. The vagina or rectum in the case of male homosexuals may retain enough infected semen for infection to be transmitted to the next sexual partner. This occurs even before infection has occurred, that is before the4 germ has actually entered the body.

10.  Can an infected person who has no symptoms transmit infection?

Very much so. The period from the time a person is exposed to the time that he develops symptoms is known as the incubation period. He may be infectious during the incubation period even before symptoms develop. Some people remain asymptomatic long after the cincubation period is over or their sypmtoms disappear without treatment. These people are known as asymptomatic carriers. Five to twenty percent of men and 80% of women with gonorrhoea for example, have no symptoms whatsoever but can still transmit infection to their sexual partners.

11.  Can a person contract more than one STD?

Very musch so. Having one STD does not prevent a person from having another. Men with gonorrhoea quite commonly contract the symptoms of NSU about 1 - 2 weeks after the gonorrhoea has been treated and cured. Additonally, it is not uncommon for doctors to find patients with gonorrhoea, chlamydia infection, genital herpes and pubic lice all at the same time.Any combination of STD is possible. This is why the STD specialist examines and tests you for not one but several STD.

12.  Is it safe to have sex with a woman when she is menstruating?

Some STD germs such as the Hepatitis B and Human Deficiency Virus (the cause of AIDS) can be found in large amounts in the menstrual blood of infected women so sex may be more risky. It is also risky for women to have sex during this time because the os or the opening of the cervix is dilated to allow the menstrual blood to flow through. This also makes it easier for STD germs toi enter the womb directly and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the womb and Fallopian tubes.

13.  Does taking alcohol or using drugs increase the risk of infection?

Alcohol and recreational drugs (for example, amyl nitrite) do not do this directly but they cloud the mind and cause you to indulge in high risk sex. Injecting drugs with contaminated needles and syringes have been linked with causing AIDS and Hepatitis B.

14.  Isnt it true that only prostitutes have STD?

It is true that prostitutes are more likely to have infection because they have a large number of sexual partners. In developing countries for example, prositutes form an important source of infection and many of these countries have specific health programmes in prostitutes to control this problem. However, non-prostitutes can also be infected and can therefore, transmit infection to their sexual partners. In the West, most cases of STD are contracted from these individuals rather than from prostitutes.

15.  Isnt is true that decent people dont get STD?

This is a very common fallacy. Unfortunately, the practice of grouping people into risk groups only serves to reinforce this belief. It is often said that male homosexuals and prostitutes are high risk groups and there is a tendency for those not belonging to these groups to consider themselves free of any risk. This is incorrect. The only requirement for STD to occur is sex. It doesnt matter what kind of person it is.