Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

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The term STIs summarizes all infections that can be transmitted through sexual contacts!

 

Some of these infections can be noticed quickly, others are difficult to recognize. Depending on the infection, these can have a variety of consequences, such as blisters, itching, warts; others lead to infertility, even triggering cancer and life-threatening damage to organs.

Here is an overview of the different STIs, their symptoms, ways of transmission and treatment options:

Principle of partner treatment!

If sexually transmitted infections occur, it is necessary for both partners to be treated, even if one has no symptoms. Contact your medical consultant.

Wissen, STI

Viruses

Viruses are not considered real creatures because they can not survive on their own. Viruses gain access to a particular host cell, integrate their genetic information into that of the host cell and “force” it to behave according to the viruses’ needs. The host cell neglects its usual tasks and produces more and more new virus particles instead. Larger amounts of virusus then abandon the host cell, which in the process usually is destroyed. Depending on the importance of the host cell, the viruses thus cause more or less damage in the body.

Herpes

Herpes (HSV)

Agent: herpes simplex (HSV1 – oral herpes), (HSV2 – genital herpes)

 

How to recognize a herpes infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Prickling, itching, burning

Vesicles on the skin and mucous membrane, lip, genitals or anus, which itch first, then burst and cause abscesses and pain

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

touching open blisters and subsequent contact with mucous membrane

kissing

vaginal sex, anal sex without a condom

during oral sex, oral herpes can be transmitted to the vagina, penis, anus and genital herpes can be transmitted on the lip

smear infections (use of the same glasses, drinking bottles etc.)

 

In every other case, the virus is transmitted by people who do not know that they carry viruses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

 

 

About 3-8 days after infection blisters will be visible. The liquid inside these is highly infectious!

Disease symptoms can disappear without treatment.

The herpes virus remains in the body the entire life. Strain, sun or stress on the immune system can cause herpes to break out again.

Other sexually transmitted infections, i.a. also HIV, are more likely to occur with genital herpes.

 

 

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

 

 

Sex with condoms

Avoid contact with blisters and open skin areas, wash hands immediatly if touched.

No vaccination possible

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

 

Smear test from the blisters or visual diagnosis

 

 

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

 

Virus-inhibiting drugs relieve the symptoms.

The virus remains in the body after the blisters healed up, herpes blisters can constantly occur.

 

 

 

Occurance:

Approximately 90% of the population are infected with oral herpes (HSV1), often in childhood; about 15% are infected with genital herpes (HSV 2).

Suspected herpes? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

Further information:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/immunsystem/geschlechtskrankheiten/herpes-genitalis

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Human papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts

Agent: human papillomavirus

 

How to recognize a HPV-infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

There are more than 100 subtypes known. Tiny injuries of the skin and the mucous membrane allow penetration. Some subtypes (6, 11) can cause genital warts (flat, smooth to velvety, skin-colored or whitish-brownish nodules) on the penis, vagina or anus. Other subtypes (16, 18) can cause cancer of the cervix, anus, labia, penis and oropharynx (mouth and throat). A cell smear test (PAP test) can detect cancer. Early detection allows effective treatment.

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Unprotected vaginal, anal and oral intercourse

Contact with open warts

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

 

 

 

In most cases, HPV infection heals after 18-24 months.

Genital warts appear about 3 weeks after infection, sometimes months later.

Cervical, anal, penis and oropharyngeal cancer develop over several years and occur at different stages. Screening (such as the PAP test) helps to detect and treat cancer early.

 

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

Condoms provide good, but not complete, protection.

Avoid direct contact with the warts.

Vaccination exists for certain types of viruses.

As part of the preventive medical examination, early stages of cancer can be discovered by a cell smear performed by a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics.

 

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

smear test from the cervix, respectively anus

Genital warts: viusal diagnosis, respectively examination of parts of the wars in a laboratory

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Genital warts can be treated medically, as well as be removed surgically, electronically or with a laser.

The virus remains in the body and new warts can constantly occur.

When cancer occurs, surgery, chemo- or radiotherapy is performed.

Occurance:

60-80% of sexually active adults have had HPV infection.

Suspected HPY? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

 

Further information about HPV:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/immunsystem/geschlechtskrankheiten/feigwarzen-hpv

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Hepatitis

A liver inflammation, which among other things is caused by viruses, is called hepatitis. The most common are hepatitis A, B and C.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Agent: Hepatitis A virus

 

How to recognize a hepatitis A infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Liver inflammation sometimes causes tiredness, mild nausea, muscle and joint pain.

Usually after a few days: brown urine, light stool.

Yellowing of the eyes, skin
Often, no signs of disease are detectable.

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

The hepatitis A virus is excreted with the feces.

It enters the mouth via contaminated food that has not been sufficiently heated or through contaminated drinking water / ice.

Also sex practices, in which feces (even traces) get into the mouth, can lead to an infection.

The agent can also be transmitted via smear infection, e.g. touching of contaminated objects such as door handles and taps in toilets.

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

At the beginning usually flu-like symptoms  appear, only later can it come to the typical jaundice. The course of disease can vary in severity, but the infection heals without consequences and leaves a lifelong immunity.

Often no symptoms occur.

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

In countries with poor sanitary and hygienic standards, avoid foods that have not been cooked or peeled. Also avoid ice cubes and open drinks.

Regularly wash or disinfect hands.

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B (also as a combination vaccine) are available.

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

 

With a blood test

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

There is no treatment.

In the acute stage, do not drink alcohol and rest.

It can take months to fully recover.

Occurance:

HAV is also referred to as “travel hepatitis” because poor sanitary conditions are responsible for infection. The probability of becoming infected in Austria is relatively low. In recent years there has been an increase in hepatitis A infections in Europe, mainly with MSM.

 

Suspected hepatitis A? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

Hepatitis test in Styria:

  • general praticioner
  • specialists
  • outpatient clinics
  • Institute for hygiene at Neuen Stiftingtalstraße 2, 8010 Graz
    (Hepatitis A, B, C – tests)
    T: (316)385-7362

 

Further links:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/leber/hepatitis-a

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Hepatitis B (HBV)

Agent: Hepatitis B virus

 

How to recognize a hepatitis B infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Often there are no signs of disease

Liver inflammation sometimes causes tiredness, mild nausea, muscle and joint pain.

Yellowing of the eyes in about 30% of the cases

Brown urin, light stool

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Blood, saliva, breast milk, urine and vaginal fluid contain hepatitis B viruses.

Hepatitis B is easily transmitted during sex as it is present in all fluids involved in sex. The risk increases when blood is involved. For an infection, a small amount of blood, even if it is invisible to the eye, is sufficient. Also kissing is contagious.

 

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

 

The course of disease can vary in severity. In about one third of the cases no symptoms, in another third only mild symptoms appear. In the last third, 3 to 10 days after the infection jaundice can develope, which passes again after a month.

Only about 5-10% of the cases are chronic. This means that the infection does not completely heal in the first 6 months. An aggressive infection can lead to liver cirrhosis (shrinkage of the liver), liver fibrosis or liver cancer.

In over 90% of infections, the immune system can control the virus and prevent reproduction.

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B (also as a combination vaccine) are available.

Using a condom reduces the risk of infection.

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

With a blood test

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Healing rarely possible.

Antiviral medicine exits, but they are not always successful.

In the acute stage, do not drink alcohol and rest.

Occurance:

It is estimated that less than 1% of the population in Europe is chronically infected. However, HBV is one of the most widespread infections worldwide.

Suspected hepatitis B? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

Hepatitis test in Styria:

  • general praticioner
  • specialists
  • outpatient clinics
  • Institute for hygiene at Neuen Stiftingtalstraße 2, 8010 Graz
    (Hepatitis A, B, C – tests)
    T: (316)385-7362

 

 

Further information about hepatitis B:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/leber/hepatitis-b

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/leber/hepatitis-b-symptome

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Hepatitis C (HCV)

Agent: Hepatitis C virus

 

How to recognize a hepatitis C infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Usually there are no signs of disease

No yellowing of the eyes, no darkening of the urine.

Rarely, flu-like symptoms occur, only in 10% cases of jaundice.

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Hepatitis C is transmitted via infected blood when it encoutners an open wound or mucous membrane. For people in health care professions who are exposed to a high risk of hepatitis C, special hygiene regulations apply.

Significant risk of infection exists in drug users by sharing injections and tubes, as well as snoring.

Using non-sterile utensils for piercing, tattooing and permanent make-up also is contagious, shared use of razors, nail scissors and toothbrushes might be a risk as well.

Sexual transmission of HCV is possible but relatively rare. However, the risk increases during menstruation, with an existing HIV infection, as well as in practices where injuries can occur.

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

 

If the virus disease persists for more than 6 months, it is called chronic hepatitis C (up to 85% of HCV diseases are chronic). In the first years usually no symptoms occur. Later, the development of liver cirrhosis or liver cancer is possible. Even chronic hepatitis C can heal spontaneously.

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Do not share injections

Avoid contact with blood

Comply hygiene measures in the health sector

Condom use in anal and vaginal intercourse

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

With a blood test

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Today, hepatitis C is almost always curable.

In 2014, new drugs were approved in the EU, which are more compatible than previous treatments and permanently rid more than 90% of those affected of their infection at the first attempt. However, these are very expensive.

Therapy now takes between 8 and 12 weeks, depending on the choice of drug.

Occurance:

In Europe, 3-5 million people with chronic HCV infection are expected. Up to 90% have been infected with IV (intravenous) drug use.

The majority of people with hepatitis C are unaware of the infection.

Suspected hepatitis C? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

Hepatitis test in Styria:

  • general praticioner
  • specialists
  • outpatient clinics
  • Institute for hygiene at Neuen Stiftingtalstraße 2, 8010 Graz
    (Hepatitis A, B, C – tests)
    T: (316)385-7362

 

 

Further links:

Hepatitis ABC-Info der Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich und der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Gastroenterologie und Hepatologie (ÖGGH):
www.hepatitisabc.at/lebererkrankungen-und-lebertransplantation/hepatitis-c/

Welt-Hepatitis-Tag Homepage der Deutschen Leberhilfe e.V.:
www.welthepatitistag.info/hepatitis-c.html

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Bacteria

Bacteria are organisms that have their own metabolism and multiply themselves through cell division. Some sexually transmitted infections are transmitted by bacteria.

Syphilis

Agent: treponema pallidum bacteria

 

How to recognize a syhpilis infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Symptoms may or may not occur. Often syphilis is asymptomatic, it may remain in seclusion for years or even heal spontaneously. Possible symptoms are:

  • lumps or abscesses (open skin) that do not hurt
  • rash (red spots), also on palms and soles
  • lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Unprotected vaginal, oral and anal intercourse

Contact with abscesses, e.g. while kissing, can be contagious.

In the second stage, transmission is also possible through blood.

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)
  • Stage 1
    A few days to weeks after infection, a painless, coin-sized abscess on the skin or mucous membranes (mouth, penis / glans, vagina or anus) emerges. The abscess secretes a clear, highly infectious fluid. The adjacent lymph nodes can swell, but do not hurt and usually disappear together with the abscess after 2-6 weeks. Often this stage goes unnoticed.
  • Stage 2
    (4-6 weeks after infection): Syphilis pathogens spread through the blood and lymph nodes throughout the body and cause fever, head and joint pain, lymphadenopathy, rash – especially on the torso, palms and soles. It can also lead to hair loss. About 2 years after the infection, the skin lesions resolve, followed by a no-symptom phase that can last from months to years.
  • Stage 3
    After years, untreated syphilis can damage internal organs as well as the nervous system. This can subsequently lead to a so-called neurosyphilis with progressive mental decay up to death.

 

 

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Condoms provide good, but not complete, protection, as infection is also possible via kissing.

Do not touch abscesses!

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

A blood test can distinguishe between acute, chronic and healed syphilis.

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Syphilis must be treated with antibiotics containing penicillin. In Austria, treatment of the partner is obligatory. Syphilis can also be cured in later stages. But the treatment takes longer. Damage to internal organs can not be reversed. Therefore treatment should start as soon as possible.

Occurance:

In Europe, the number of syphilis infections is severely increasing.

Suspected syphilis? What to do?

 

Anonymous syphilis-tests atr AIDS-Hilfe Steiermark: Information about test and counselling.

Or contact your medical consultant!

 

 

Further information about syphilis:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/immunsystem/geschlechtskrankheiten/syphilis

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Gonorrhoea

Agent: neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria (gonococcus)

 

How to recognize a gonorrhoea infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Discharge from vagina and penis

Discharge from anus after anal intercourse

Cauterisation while urinating

Sore throat after oral sex

Female bodies often show no disorders (50-80%)

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Unprotected sex (oral sex as well)

When the agent comes into contact with mucous membrane

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

 

Male bodies: typical symptoms after 2-5 days

Female bodies: sometimes first symptoms 2-5 days after infection, often not at all

 

Possible consequences without treatment

  • chronic urethritis (male body) 
  • inflammation of the epididymis in men (male body)
  • inflammation of the cervix (female body)
  • risk of sterility (female and male body)
  • rare: inflammation spreads in the body (e.g., skin, joints, heart, meninges, liver)

 

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Safer sex

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

Smear test from urethra, cervix, anus or throat

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Tripper is well curable by antibiotics. Partner has to be treated as well!

More and more gonococcal strains occur which are resistant to antibiotics. At the latest, a resistance test makes when antibiotic therapy fails.

Occurance:

Exact data does not exist, but gonorrhea is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in the world.

Suspected gonorrhoea? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

 

Further information:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/immunsystem/geschlechtskrankheiten/gonorrhoe

 

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Chlamydia infection

Agent: Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria

 

How to recognize a chlamydia infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Male body: cauterisation when urinating, hyalin or milky-turbid discharge from the urethra.

In female bodies, the infection often goes without symptoms.

 

 

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Sex without condoms

Infection is possible in all sexual practices. The most common way of transmission is unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse. When transmitted through oral sex, chlamydia can colonize the pharynx, but they do not cause disease there and usually disappear after a few weeks.

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

The bacteria cause inflammation of the urethra, the internal and external genitalia and the rectum.

50-70% of those infected have only minor or no symptoms at all. Left untreated, this disease can lead to gluing of the fallopian tubes or the spermatic ducts and thus to infertility.

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Safer sex

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

 

Smear test from urethra, cervix, throat or anus

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Using antibiotics, chlamydia infection is easily cured. Partner has to be treated as well!

Occurance:

Especially young people under the age of 25 are affected, after that the frequency is decreasing.

Suspected chlamydia infection? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

 

 

Further information:

www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/immunsystem/geschlechtskrankheiten/genitale-chlamydieninfektion

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Fungal infection (mycosis)

Agent: candida albicans

 

How to recognize a fungal infection?

(symptoms)

 

 

 

Female body: redness, swelling, severe itching, whitish and brittle discharge

Male body: often no symptoms; sometimes redness, itching, white coating on the glans, cauterisation while urinating

How can the disease be transmitted?

(ways of transmission)

 

 

Sex without condoms

Fungal diseases can also develop spontaneously because of weakened body defenses or stress

After treatment with antibiotics, fungal infections occasionally occur

 

 

How does the disease progress?

(course of disease)

Female body: usually clear symptoms soon after infection

Male body: often no obvious symptoms

How do I protect myself?

(protection)

 

 

Safer sex

No vaginal rinses, no intimate sprays and intimate lotions

 

 

How can an infection be detected?

(diagnosis)

Visual diagnosis, respectively smear test from the vagina

How can the infection be treated?

(treatment)

Fungal infections can be treated with special creams and medications.

Occurance:

Fungal infections are widespread and among the most common sexually transmitted infections.

Suspected fungal infection? What to do?

Contact your medical consultant!

 

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Further reading: Links

Download the pamphlet “Sexuell übertragbare Infektionen 2017 – Info+ für Praktiker_innen aus Prävention und Beratung sowie interessierte Laien” from the webpage of the German AIDS-Hilfe. It contains information about sexually transmitted infections:

www.aidshilfe.de/shop/sexuell-ubertragbare-infektionen-2017

Further reading: Downloads


Pamphlet for adolescents on sexuality, sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and proper condom use