There are many different types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which are infections that can spread from an infected person to an uninfected person through sexual contact. Of these, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) make up the most common viral STDs. In the United States, it has been estimated that 1 million people are living with HIV and there are 41,000 new infections every year. Hepatitis B, C, and HIV are viruses which have a long incubation period or produce no symptoms early in the illness, so people are often unaware that they are infected for a long period. Because of this, it is important to be regularly tested if you are engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse. The best method to prevent getting infected with STDs is to have protected sex by using condoms.
Read on, by the end of this article; we will give you some basic info about the most common viral STDs.
Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is spread via sexual contact, sharing instruments which can carry blood products, by the sharing of needles or due to needle-stick injuries in health professionals. Hepatitis B is very contagious, and there is no cure, only life-long medical management. Fortunately, there is an effective vaccine for hepatitis B, and it is recommended that people be vaccinated during childhood as part of their routine vaccination routine or before engaging in any sexual intercourse.
Hepatitis B virus is damaging to the liver but often does not show any signs or symptoms until there is already significant damage. Typically, the incubation period can last between 6 weeks to 6 months, and if there are symptoms, they are generally flu-like and not cause for concern. Studies have shown that
hepatitis B virus is the most common cause of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer which is a complication of contracting the disease.
Because of the lack of symptoms, it is important to be tested for hepatitis B if engaging in behaviors that put you at risk of contracting the virus.
Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread in the blood. Hepatitis C can spread via sexual intercourse but is more commonly spread by sharing needles for intravenous drug use. There are currently approximately 4 million people in the United States infected with HCV. Like HIV, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, so it is important to be tested regularly if partaking in risky behavior.
Reports have shown that 1 in 4 people who contract HCV require no treatment and will fight the virus on their own. The rest of people can be managed via medication. Unfortunately, for most people, acute hepatitis C infection does progress to long-term chronic illness, which damages the liver and in many cases is challenging to treat, and can lead to death.
HIV is the virus that causes people to develop acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The reason for this is that the virus kills off specific white blood cells which are part of your immune system. The immune system is weaker, and you are more susceptible to getting sick from infections that people who are not infected can fight against.
HIV is mostly spread through sexual contact, but can also be spread through sharing needles, infected blood products and from an infected mother to child during pregnancy. Once infected with HIV, the virus remains in the body for life since there is no cure for it. Having risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners simultaneously and intravenous drug abuse increase the risk of contracting HIV.
HIV can often go undetected for a very long period, sometimes as long as ten years because there are either no symptoms or these are vague and non-sinister. Therefore, if you are sexually active, it is important to be regularly tested for HIV.