Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI/STD)
The Clinton County Health Department offers low-cost testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea ($20 – cash, check, debit, or credit card). This includes consultation and treatment medications. Results are typically available in 3 – 4 days. We also offer free HIV and Hepatitis C testing via Aspire of Lafayette and those test results are available in 20-30 minutes. Call (765) 659-6385 ext. 1301 for an appointment. Currently, due to PHN overseeing the COVID response clinic, we are deferring testing to our partners at Healthy Communities of Clinton County. Call (765) 659-6063 to schedule.
What are STDs or STIs?
Sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD/STI’s) are passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact and from sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. STI’s are very common. In fact, CDC estimates 20 million new infections occur every year in the United States. STIs can mostly be prevented by not having sex. If you do have sex, you can lower your risk by using condoms and being in a sexual relationship with a partner who does not have an STI. STI’s do not always cause symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. That is why it is important to get tested if you are having sex.
While sexually transmitted diseases affect individuals of all ages, STI’s take a particularly heavy toll on young people. CDC estimated that youth ages 15-24 make up just over one-quarter of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year. The signs and symptoms listed below are a good indication that an STI is present. However, some common STIs (i.e., Chlamydia and gonorrhea) can show no symptoms. Because you may not show symptoms, you can have an STI for a long time without knowing it. Untreated STIs can lead to more serious health complications. It is important to get to know your own body and to know what is normal and healthy for you. When something seems different, get it checked out. Keep in mind that your body won’t always show signs and symptoms, and that’s why we recommend regular STI testing for anyone who is sexually active whether or not they have any symptoms.
The lists below describe some of the general symptoms that might accompany an STI. Signs and symptoms:
- Sores or blisters on the genitals on or around the anus, or mouth
- Irregular growths (warts) in the genital area
- Vaginal or penile discharge (may be unusual-smelling or discolored)
- Genital itching
- Pain with urination or having a bowel movement
- Pain with intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting after sexual intercourse
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pain or swelling of glands in the groin area
Possible complications related to STI’s:
- Discomfort in the genital area
- Complications related to pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy or transmission of
- infection to a fetus
- Reproductive system cancers
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Enhanced transmission of HIV
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contaminated blood. About half of people with HCV don’t know they’re infected, mainly because they have no symptoms, which can take decades to appear. For that reason, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a one-time screening blood test for everyone at increased risk of the infection. The largest group at risk includes everyone born between 1945 and 1965 — a population five times more likely to be infected than those born in other years.
Long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is known as chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C is usually a “silent” infection for many years, until the virus damages the liver enough to cause the signs and symptoms of liver disease. Among these signs and symptoms are:
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Poor appetite
- Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)
- Swelling in your legs
- Weight loss
- Confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas)
Every chronic hepatitis C infection starts with an acute phase. Acute hepatitis C usually goes undiagnosed because it rarely causes symptoms. When signs and symptoms are present, they may include jaundice, along with fatigue, nausea, fever, and muscle aches. Acute symptoms appear one to three months after exposure to the virus and last two weeks to three months.
Your risk of hepatitis C infection is increased if you:
- Are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood, which may happen if an infected needle pierces your skin.
- Have ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs.
- Have HIV.
- Received a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment.
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.
- Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987.
- Received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time.
- Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection.
- Were ever in prison.
- Were born between 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection.
Normal liver vs. liver cirrhosis Liver Cancer
Complications - Hepatitis C infection that continues over many years can cause significant complications, such as:
- Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). After 20 to 30 years of hepatitis C infection, cirrhosis may occur. Scarring in your liver makes it difficult for your liver to function.
- Liver cancer. A small number of people with hepatitis C infection may develop liver cancer.
- Liver failure. Advanced cirrhosis may cause your liver to stop functioning.
Prevention - Protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by taking the following precautions:
- Stop using illicit drugs, particularly if you inject them.
- Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you choose to undergo piercing or tattooing, look for a reputable shop.
- Practice safer sex. Don’t engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners or with any partner whose health status is uncertain. Sexual transmission between monogamous couples may occur, but the risk is low.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition. There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations.
Early Symptoms of HIV usually occur within a couple of weeks to a month or two after infection and often present as a bad case of the flu. In many people, early HIV signs and symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph glands
- Sore joints or muscles
- Sore throat
These early HIV symptoms are the body’s natural response. Symptoms, if they appear at all, usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you are very infectious. More persistent or more severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for several years after the initial infection. The symptoms that indicate an early HIV infection are extremely common. Often, you can’t tell them apart from symptoms of another viral infection. If you’re concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV, talk to your doctor about your testing options.
How HIV Spreads - To become infected with HIV, infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions must enter your body. This can happen in several ways:
- By having sex. You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity.
- From blood transfusions. In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. American hospitals and blood banks now screen the blood supply for HIV antibodies, so this risk is very small.
- By sharing needles. Sharing contaminated intravenous drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes) puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.
- During pregnancy or delivery or through breastfeeding. Infected mothers can pass the virus on to their babies. HIV-positive mothers who get treatment for the infection during pregnancy can significantly lower the risk to their babies.
How HIV doesn’t spread
You can’t become infected with HIV through ordinary contact. That means you can’t catch HIV or AIDS by hugging, kissing, dancing, or shaking hands with someone who has the infection. HIV isn’t spread through the air, water, or insect bites.