Presently there are over 25 sexually transmitted diseases. Reynolds County Health Center conducts screening and treatment, if needed & you meet eligibility guidelines, for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV, otherwise referred to as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). All testing is confidential and free of charge.


Gonorrhea

Slang: “dose”, “clap”, “drip”

Definition:
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is most common in people ages 15 to 30; many of those infected with gonorrhea also have chlamydia. Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrheae.

Symptoms:
Males: Most infected men have symptoms, which can include a milky discharge from the penis and burning sensation upon urination.
Females: Most women have no symptoms; if symptoms are present, there is often a vaginal discharge and/or painful urination.
Male/Female: Rectal: itching, pain and discharge with blood or pus. Oral: sore Throat, swollen glands.

Treatment:
Curable with antibiotic therapy. If not treated can cause reproductive organs damage, infertility, heart trouble, skin disease, arthritis & blindness, and a mother can transmit it to her newborn during childbirth.


Chlamydia

Slang: “The Clam”, “Gooey Stuff”

Definition:
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the country. It is caused by a bacterium known as Chlamydia Trachomatis and is often without symptoms. Chlamydia is frequently diagnosed in teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms:
Males: Infected men commonly have no symptoms; if symptoms are present, there is often a watery or milky discharge from the penis and a burning sensation upon urination.
Females: Infected women commonly show no symptoms; if symptoms are present, there is most often vaginal discharge and/or bleeding; low abdominal pain and painful urination.
Male/Female: Rectal: Pain, itching and discharge with blood or pus.

Treatment:
Curable with antibiotic therapy. If not treated can cause reproductive organ damage, infertility, and the mother can transmit to her newborn during childbirth.


Syphilis

Slang: “Pox”, “Bad Blood”

Definition:
A sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum that may be transmitted sexually for from mother to child before or at the time of birth (congenital syphilis).

Symptoms:
Primary Stage: Small painless sore where organism enters the body (genital, oral or rectal); in women the sore may be internal and go unnoticed.
Secondary Stage: Rash that can involve the palms and soles of the feet; swollen lymph glands, fever, and painless sores often found in the mouth.
Latent Stage: Patient does not have symptoms-stage could last for years.
Late Stage: If left untreated can cause damage to the brain, or heart, blindness and/ or death.

Treatment:
Can be cured with antibiotic therapy. If left untreated, it can cause heart disease, brain damage, blindness, death, and a mother can transmit it to her newborn during childbirth.


HIV and AIDS

HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the virus that causes AIDS. This virus attacks an individual’s immune system and reduces the individual’s ability to fight off a variety of infections and some cancers.

When an individual infected with HIV begins to develop symptoms and/or infections a doctor may diagnose that person as having AIDS. AIDS is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A diagnosis of AIDS means that an individual is living with HIV and also has a CD4+T-cell count of 200 or less and an opportunistic infection.

What are CD4+ T cells?
CD4+ T cells are a type of white blood cells that assist in protecting the body from various forms of infection. These specific white blood cells are responsible for fighting off infections. HIV targets and destroys these cells to weaken the immune system.

How is HIV passed from one person to another?
HIV can be passed from an infected person to an uninfected person through unprotected anal, vaginal, oral sex. HIV can also be passed while sharing needles or reusing equipment when injecting drugs, tattooing or body piercing. HIV can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The body fluids that are known to transmit HIV from one person to another are:

  • Blood
  • Semen (e.g. thick whitish secretion released from a man’s penis during sexual arousal)
  • Vaginal Fluids (e.g. natural lubricant found in a woman’s vagina during sexual arousal and fluid released during sexual climax)
  • Breast Milk

How is HIV not spread?
HIV is not spread through casual contact. Casual contact can be considered to be any activities, in which an individual does not come into contact with another’s blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk. Specifically HIV cannot be spread by:

  • Shaking hands
  • Dry kissing
  • Using the same eating or drinking utensils
  • Restroom facilities
  • Hugging
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Attending the same church, school, or work place

How is the risk of HIV reduced?

The risk of HIV is reduced by abstinence, use of universal precautions, safer sex and not sharing needles.

Abstinence is refraining from vaginal, anal, or oral sex and avoiding drug and alcohol usage. Drugs and alcohol are included with abstinence for two reasons.

  • Injecting drugs and sharing needles is a primary route of HIV transmission by infected blood.
  • When a person is “high” or intoxicated he/she may participate (willing or unwilling) in vaginal, anal or oral sexual activities that may put them at risk for HIV infection.

Universal precautions refer to the activities that avoid contact with blood or bodily fluids containing blood.
Universal precautions include:

  • Wearing latex gloves when coming into contact with blood, skin and mucous membrane cuts, or any open skin lesion.
  • Using gloves only for the care of one child, then discard the gloves.
  • Washing hands after discarding the gloves.
  • Properly disposing of contaminated materials exposed to blood, such as needles.

Safer Sex refers to the use of a latex condom for vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Some people have an allergy to latex and for these individuals a polyurethane condom is an alternative. Condoms have 4 very important protective factors to consider – expiration date, sensitivity to changes in temperature such as heat & cold, and the use of petroleum based lubricants. A condom that has experienced any of these factors SHOULD NOT be used, but thrown away, as they will most likely be ineffective to protect a person from transmission of STD/STI’s.

Not sharing needles is a harm reduction method for individuals that use injection drugs. Injection drug use alone can have damaging affects on an individual’s health. To reduce the possibility of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or other blood-borne pathogen exposure individuals should not share needles. In some cases an individual may share needles for tattooing, body piercing, or medicinal purposes (i.e. diabetes medication). If you are about to receive a tattoo or body piercing make sure that new sterile needles are being used and that the facility you are using has been properly inspected by the Health Department in their area.

Remember you cannot look at someone and tell that they are infected with HIV, hepatitis C, or any other blood-borne pathogen.
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection nor is there a cure. With early identification, behavior modification, support, and medical treatment people living with HIV live longer and healthier.

HIV cannot be cured. 

Testing/Consultation is done, by appointment only, on Monday through Thursday from 8am – 11am.