Blog

TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

PLEASE CALL 888.249.6716 or ORDER ONLINE

Same day appointments available. Walk-ins not accepted. We require approximately 15 minutes notice to schedule testing.

Do STD Tests show up on your Medical Record?

Do STD Tests show up on your Medical Record?

This is a great question, and the answer for all our tests is a firm “NO“. Private Testing Center puts a huge emphasis on protecting your privacy. Here’s some of the ways we ensure your testing is discreet:

All Our STD Tests are Confidential

The only personal information we collect from you is your name and date-of-birth. This is only so that we can ensure we match you to the correct appointment slot in the lab. We DO NOT require your address, social security or any other information.

Our Tests do not appear on your Medical Record

All of PTC’s STD Tests do not appear on your Medical Record. While this is our policy, some other STD Testing Providers do not share this policy! If privacy is a concern, please verify that whomever you choose, your test will not appear on your medical record.

It is for this reason that we do not accept insurance. If we submit your claim to the insurance companies, they will become aware you took the test and it will appear on your record, and sometimes insurance companies will raise your rates if you take certain tests or take what they deem “too many”.

We offer Several Options for Discreet Payment

If you pay with a credit or debit card, a charge will appear on your statement from “Private Testing Center, Inc.” However, for a more discreet option, we also accept payments from pre-paid gift cards. This is an option often used by our customers.

These cards are untraceable and are sold at all major retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target and others. Sometimes the cards only come in increments of $25, $50, $100 etc., so purchasing more than one might be necessary. In many cases though, you can load a custom amount onto the card.

We are unable to accept cash as payment.

We Provide your Results Discreetly

Our preferred method for telling your results is verbally, over the phone. We can call you as soon as the results are ready, or if you’d prefer not to give us your phone number, you can call us at 888.248.9002. Another option is we can email, or mail, your results.

All these policies are built with your privacy and protection in mind. Private Testing Center will collect as little personal information as possible, and we’ll always keep this info confidential and discreet. Call us at 888.248.9002 or Schedule Your Test Online.

Can Dormant Herpes be Detected?

The Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes HSV Lesions
Antibodies Attacking a Virus
Antibodies Attacking a Virus

One common question we get asked is “Can Dormant Herpes Be Detected?” The answer is YES IT CAN, as long as you get the right test!

Genital herpes is a virus that comes in two types, but both types act the same. As many as 4-5 times a year, the virus attacks your skin and causes an “outbreak” of sores, blisters or small pimples.

These take 2-4 weeks to fully heal. If someone else touches the sores, they can also become infected with Herpes. Even though you can see something is wrong with your body, these sores are often mistaken for other skin conditions like insect bites or a rash.

Eventually your body beats back the attack, but then the Herpes virus pulls a trick. It retreats back to the base of your spine, where it slowly builds up strength again, but also causes no trouble. This is called the “Dormant” phase.

During the “Dormant” phase, you have absolutely no symptoms, so it may seem tough to test whether you are infected. But here at Private Testing Center, we have a super accurate test that does just that.

You see, even though there’s no outward sign that you have Herpes, your body still knows it’s infected. It constantly battles it with special ANTIBODIES. These are tiny assassins that ONLY kill the Herpes virus.

With just one 15 minute visit, Private Testing Center will draw a tiny amount of your blood, and check to see if any of these antibodies show up. If you aren’t infected with Herpes, you won’t have any Herpes antibodies in your blood. If you ARE infected, it doesn’t matter if the Herpes is Dormant or Active, we will see the antibodies. You can take the test 3 weeks after your last contact of concern, and it’s super accurate.

Sadly, there is no cure for Herpes, as any medicine strong enough to kill the virus would also damage the nerves at the base of your spine. However, with a proper diagnosis and the right medicine, you can shorten or even prevent outbreaks, and also not pass it onto other people you care about. That’s worth getting tested for.

Don’t leave your health to chance! Private Testing Center offers affordable, same-day testing for all major STDs, including Herpes, HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrea and more. We keep all your info strictly confidential, and we’re here for counseling and advice if you need it. Call 888.248.9002 or Schedule Your Test today.

Sex and HIV: Is It Ever Safe?

A romantic relationship can be drastically affected if one person is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. While there’s much more to most couples’ relationships than sex, it’s still an important part of being together. And by putting HIV prevention measures in place, it’s possible to stay well and maintain a sex life.

Finding safe methods of sexual intimacy is an important step for you and your partner after an HIV diagnosis, as is determining whether you want to try to have children.

Can Sex Be Safe With HIV?

It’s natural for couples to be afraid of having sex after an HIV diagnosis. But understanding the risks involved with certain kinds of sexual activity, and knowing about methods of HIV prevention, can help alleviate these fears.

When a person infected with HIV or AIDS has sexual intercourse of any kind, there is a risk of infecting the healthy partner — whether or not you use condoms. Couples need to be aware of which sexual activities put them at risk, and what they can do to minimize that risk.

“HIV can be transmitted through vaginal sex, anal sex, and it’s likely that it’s transmitted through oral sex as well. So all of these would carry a risk of transmitting HIV to the HIV infected person’s partner,” says Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, MPH, director of applied science at the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, Tex.

Couples can reduce (but not completely eliminate) the risk of transmitting HIV to the healthy individual through proper, consistent condom use.

“When you use condoms for vaginal intercourse, it reduces the risk of transmission of HIV by 85 to 90 percent,” says Dr. Shuford. However, “the risk is still there even when a condom is used correctly and consistently.”

What Are the Chances of Getting HIV?

For each act of intercourse, the odds are actually only around 1 in 1,000 that the healthy partner will contract HIV, according to Shuford. However, when you add that up over weeks, months, and years, a person in a relationship with an HIV-infected partner is at much higher risk. “The risk is additive over time and it’s important that people realize that condom use needs to occur every time,” Shuford adds.

The exact level of risk of the uninfected partner contracting HIV depends on several factors, including how well the infected partner’s HIV is being managed. Shuford notes that people who aren’t taking medication for their HIV will have higher concentrations of the virus in their bodily fluids, making it more probable that they could pass it on to a sexual partner.

People who are managing their HIV with medication will usually have less of the virus in their blood and bodily fluids, which decreases the risk that they will transmit it to a partner. However, being on HIV medication does not eliminate the risk of transmission, so condoms must still be used.

There are no documented cases of HIV having been contracted through saliva, so couples are generally given the OK to kiss as much as they want. However, there is a theoretical risk of transmitting the virus through deep kissing if the infected partner has open mouth sores or blood in his saliva (perhaps from severe gum disease) and the uninfected partner also has sores or cuts in or around the mouth.

Sexual partners can also engage in other acts of intimacy in which bodily fluids are not exchanged, or where bodily fluids don’t come into contact with the mucous membranes that line the mouth, anus, and vagina.

Having Children With an HIV-Infected Partner

There are also options for couples affected by HIV who want to have children. Some to consider are:

  • In-vitro fertilization
  • Artificial insemination
  • Adoption
  • Using a sperm donor
  • Using a surrogate mother
  • Limited unprotected intercourse (during ovulation only) — but this carries a risk of HIV transmission

For methods like in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, the sperm can be cleaned to remove as much of the virus as possible, but there is still a risk of transmitting the disease. Unfortunately, these methods are often quite expensive, and people who are already paying for HIV treatment may not be able to afford them.

While it’s highly unlikely that a healthcare professional would ever recommend having unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner in order to have children, Shuford says that many couples do just that.

Couples who want to attempt to conceive naturally should talk to their doctor about the best time to have sexual intercourse, Shuford says. To minimize risk and increase the chance that they’ll become pregnant, it’s important for women who are trying to conceive to know when they’re fertile, have unprotected sex only during that fertile period, and limit the number of times they have unprotected sex.

If a woman who is infected with HIV gets pregnant, transmission of HIV from the mother to the baby is “another risk that has to be managed by the patient and physician,” says Shuford. The mother should manage her HIV with medication to reduce the amount of virus in her blood, and the baby can be treated immediately at delivery to reduce the risk of transmission.

Rather than avoiding intimacy, couples dealing with HIV should be aware of the risk of transmission, what activities involve risk, and what they can do to reduce it. Hugging, most kissing, and touching are all safe activities — and will be a great comfort to the person with HIV.

By: Diana Rodriguez

Medically Reviewed by: Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

How is Hepatitis C Transmitted?

Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health: It’s basically a simplistic question, but what does blood-to-blood transmission mean? You have blood in a syringe, for example. How long has it been sitting there, and how long can it still transmit the virus?

Douglas Dieterich, MD, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: It’s probably 7 to 10 days.

Dr. Gupta: So if blood is sitting in a syringe for 7 to 10 days and then it is used again, it can still transmit?

Dr. Dieterich: Yeah, it’s scary.

Dr. Gupta: It’s remarkable.

Dr. Dieterich: Yeah, it is. It’s a smart virus.

Dr. Gupta: Cocaine straws — and admittedly I have never done that — but how would cocaine straws, that doesn’t sound like a blood-to-blood transmission.

Dr. Dieterich: Well, it’s a sharp straw you know. You get a little nick, a little blood. Even other things that you don’t even think about, like manicures, pedicures, boxing, rugby — a lot of people get cuts, they are in the scrum — so things like that are all risks that you don’t even think about.

Dr. Gupta: That’s going to scare a lot of people. When you talk about manicures, for example. Is there a way that can be done properly, or what’s happening?

Dr. Dieterich: You know, it’s hard to sterilize those instruments, so I think to be perfectly safe you should just bring your own manicure instruments. You have seen people get their cuticles nicked, right, when they have a manicure, and then they dip the scissors in the blue viral culture medium there and shake it off? Then it’s not sterile, you know, by any means.

Dr. Gupta: That doesn’t do the trick.

Dr. Dieterich: That doesn’t really do the trick, no.

Dr. Gupta: Today, the blood supply is safe, but anyone who was given blood from a blood bank before 1992 is also at risk of hepatitis C. Bottom line: sharing needles is not the only way to transmit this virus, so even if you never used illegal drugs, it may still be a good idea to get tested. With Everyday Health, I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Be well.

 

By: Dr. Sanjay Gupta

 

9 Ways HIV Is Not Spread.

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, has existed in the United States since at least the 1970s, but myths and misconceptions about how it’s transmitted still persist.

Most people know that the virus is commonly spread through sexual contact and intravenous drug use. But what other behaviors are — and are not — risk factors?

HIV: How It’s Transmitted

HIV is spread through certain body fluids, such as blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services AIDS.gov website. The virus can be transmitted when these fluids in an infected person come into contact with mucous membranes in the rectum, vagina, penis, or mouth of another person.

While HIV can be spread during anal or vaginal sex, anal sex is riskier because there is more trauma and irritation to the mucous membranes, says Beverly Sha, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Although the risk is low, HIV can also be spread through oral sex. HIV transmission can happen during ejaculation into the mouth, or if there are mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, genital sores, or other sexually transmitted diseases present, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using condoms during sex lowers the risk of HIV transmission. “When they are used properly, it’s clear they offer significant protection,” Dr. Sha says. However, condoms can fail when they break, if they’re too old, or if they are not used correctly.

The virus can also spread if infected fluids come into contact with damaged tissue, such as a cut in the skin, or if infected blood is transferred from a needle or syringe. Doing injection drugs with someone who is infected and sharing equipment is high risk. HIV can be found in a used needle for as long as 42 days.

Pregnancy is another risk factor to be aware of. While HIV can be spread from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, treatment lowers the chances to less than 1 percent, according to AVERT, a nonprofit dedicated to HIV and AIDS education.

HIV: How It’s Not Transmitted

The following are nine ways the virus is not spread:

Kissing and touching. Social kissing and hugging pose no risk of transmission, Sha says. Also, being sexual with someone without exchanging infected body fluids does not spread the virus. The only time deep kissing is a risk is when the person infected with HIV has open sores or oral bleeding, Sha notes.

Sharing a living space. Any casual contact with someone who has HIV, including sharing a bathroom, is safe. However, Sha tells patients not to share razor blades or toothbrushes. If someone who is infected nicks himself while shaving or has bleeding gums, it could increase risk of transmission.

Sharing food or utensils. The virus cannot survive on surfaces, so sharing utensils and other household items will not spread HIV. You can even share a meal with someone who is infected without worry. Transmission has been associated with mothers pre-chewing food for their babies, when infected blood from the mouth mixes with the food. Known as pre-mastication, it is a common practice in Africa, but not typically done in the United States, Sha says.

Saliva, sweat, or tears. An infected person’s saliva, sweat, and tears do not put you at risk.

Helping an injured person with HIV. Wearing gloves while doing so is ideal; but even if the person’s blood comes into contact with your intact skin, you should not worry. “We don’t consider blood exposure to intact skin to be a risk,” Sha says. There needs to be a cut or abrasion to allow the virus to get past the skin layer.

Water fountains. Sipping from a water fountain after someone who has HIV used it is considered casual contact and will not lead to transmission.

Mosquitoes and other insects. The virus is not viable in insects or ticks, Sha says.

Toilet seats. HIV cannot survive on surfaces, so this is not a concern.

Modern blood transfusions. Donated blood is screened and disposed of if it tests positive for HIV. Advanced technology has made screening increasingly sensitive at identifying the virus, Sha says.

 

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts develop as a symptom of infection with the human papillomavirus.

Genital warts, known medically as condyloma acuminata, are soft, moist bumps that are generally pink or flesh-toned.

They may also be raised, flat, or shaped like a cauliflower (if they grow in clusters).

These blemishes, which are sometimes also called anogenital warts, may appear throughout the genital and anal areas.

In women, genital warts can grow inside or outside the vagina and anus, on surrounding areas, and on the cervix inside the body.

In men, they may also appear inside or outside the anus, as well as on the penis or scrotum, inside the urethra, or on surrounding areas.

In both men and women, condyloma acuminata can also develop in the mouth and throat, and on the tongue and lips.

Causes of Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The human papillomavirus isn’t a single virus, but rather a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each of these has a designated number, or HPV type.

About 90 percent of genital warts are caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11.

Other HPV types can cause warts on other parts of the body.

You can get genital warts if you have sex with someone who has HPV, even if they don’t have any visible warts or other apparent symptoms of the infection.

Although genital warts inside the anus predominately affect people who have had receptive anal intercourse, they can also occur in men and women who have no history of anal sexual contact.

Prevalence and Risk Factors

In the United States, an estimated 500,000 to one million new cases of condyloma acuminata are diagnosed each year, according to a 2012 review in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.

But other estimates point to a lower incidence of genital warts — about 360,000 cases each year, according to the CDC.

The prevalence of genital warts among boys and men ages 15 to 39 in the United States increased significantly between 2003 and 2009, but remained stable in 2010, according to a 2013 report in the American Journal of Public Health.

The prevalence of genital warts among women of different age groups has seen various increases and decreases over the years.

But overall, it has decreased in girls and women ages 15 to 24, likely due to the HPV vaccine, the study notes.

You have an increased risk of developing and spreading genital warts if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are stressed and have another viral infection, such as herpes
  • Have a weakened immune system from medications or other health conditions, including diabetes and HIV/AIDs
  • Use tobacco or drink alcohol
  • Are sexually active at an early age, or have unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Have another sexually transmitted disease

HPV and Cancer

Over many years — sometimes decades — a persistent HPV infection can cause cancer.

In fact, HPV causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, according to the CDC. The viral infection is also linked to:

  • 91 percent of anal cancers
  • 75 percent of vaginal cancers
  • 72 percent of cancers in the back of the throat (including the base of the tongue and tonsils)
  • 69 percent of vulvar cancers
  • 63 percent of penile cancers

While the CDC notes the links in these cases, the estimates don’t necessarily mean that HPV caused these cancers.

Many of these cancers, for instance, also have strong ties to tobacco and alcohol use, the CDC says.

Importantly, the types of HPV that cause genital warts are different from the types that cause cancer.

But you should still get screened for the above types of cancer if you have genital warts, because you may also be carrying a cancer-causing form of HPV, in addition to HPV 6 or 11.

 

Article By Joseph Bennington-Castro

  • Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD

Is It Safe to Have Sex With an HIV Positive Partner?

HIV is spread by sexual contact, especially anal, with an infected person, by sharing needles and/or syringes (primarily for drug injection) with someone who is infected, or through blood transfusions. The latter is not common in countries where blood is screened. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breastfeeding after birth.

The only foolproof method of protecting yourself from contracting HIV or any STD is abstinence. However, safer sex practices can help lessen your chances of contracting HIV or other STDs.

Preventing the transmission of bodily fluids between partners is key to preventing the transmission of HIV. Use a condom every time you have intercourse with your partner, including oral sex. When he performs oral sex on you, use a dental dam or plastic wrap to prevent the exchange of fluids, and use a condom when performing oral sex on him. (Kissing someone with HIV is safe, but if one or both of you has an oral sore, you should abstain from kissing until it heals.) Remember, all it takes is one incident of unprotected sex, so use protection every single time you are intimate. Keep in mind, a condom does not prevent the transmission of skin to skin transmitted STDs such as herpes, syphilis and genital warts.

What you need to know about hepatitis.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, and it is most often caused by viral infections. Some types of hepatitis will cause discomfort but eventually go away, while others, like chronic hepatitis C, can be deadly.

Viral types of hepatitis — A, B,C, D, and E — are contracted in various ways. Other non-viral causes of hepatitis relate to toxic exposures and autoimmune disease.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and also the number one reason for liver transplants in the United States. More than 1.2 million Americans are affected by hepatitis B, and over 3 million have chronic hepatitis C, though many don’t know they are infected.

“The liver is responsible for filtering from the bloodstream harmful substances such as dead cells, toxins, fats, hormones, and a yellowish substance called bilirubin, a byproduct of the breakdown of old red blood cells,” says Rashmi Gulati, MD, medical director of Patients Medical in New York City.

“If the liver is inflamed, tender, and enlarged, it becomes unable to function normally. As a result, toxins that would normally be filtered out by the liver build up in the body, and certain nutrients are not processed and stored as they should be.”

Types of Hepatitis

Of the viral causes of hepatitis, hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common. There are also two other forms known as hepatitis D and hepatitis E.

Hepatitis C is the most serious of the more common viral types, says Dr. Gulati. Hepatitis C causes more than 16,000 U.S. deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“About 85 percent of hepatitis C infections lead to chronic liver disease,” Gulati says. “The virus causes slowly progressing, but ultimately devastating damage to the liver.”

Both hepatitis A and B also can be dangerous. “Hepatitis A virus can cause acute liver disease, but can heal within a few months. It can cause high spiking fevers and is more severe in adults than in children,” says Gulati.

“Hepatitis B virus has an 85 percent recovery rate, while 15 percent develop cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.”

Of the rarer viral types, hepatitis D sometimes appears in conjunction with hepatitis B, making for a deadly combination. Hepatitis E is more common outside the United States and appears to put pregnant women at the greatest risk.

Toxic hepatitis is not caused by a virus, but occurs as a result of exposure to toxins like drugs and alcohol. And autoimmune hepatitis happens when the body’s immune system goes awry and attacks its own liver without the presence of a virus.

How Hepatitis Is Transmitted

Hepatitis A is usually spread from person to person or by ingesting food or water that is contaminated with the virus. In some cases, raw shellfish from polluted waters can also spread the disease.

Hepatitis B and C are usually spread through infected blood or other bodily fluids.

Doctors, dentists, and nurses, as well as staff and patients at blood banks, dialysis clinics, and pathology laboratories, are at a greater risk of developing these kinds of hepatitis due to accidental blood exposure.

Drug users who share needles are at high risk of contracting hepatitis B and C, as are those who have unprotected sex with an infected person.

Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis

If you contract hepatitis, it may present in a way that is similar to a nasty bout of a flu, says Dr. Gulati. Common symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pains
  • Drowsiness

 

Other warning signs to look out for include dark urine, light, clay-colored stools, abdominal discomfort, and jaundice, the yellowing of the whites of the eyes or the skin due to an accumulation of bilirubin.

If you have hepatitis, a simple blood test will show elevated liver enzymes. Additional blood tests can help identify which virus, if any, is to blame.

What To Do About Hepatitis

If you have hepatitis A or B, in most cases you’ll get better with a doctor’s care and supportive treatment without specific anti-viral treatments.

Hepatitis C and other chronic forms will probably affect your life more profoundly, but you can do a lot to manage the condition and keep it under control.

If someone in your home has hepatitis, it is also important to take appropriate precautions to avoid spreading the disease.

For hepatitis A, handwashing is extremely important. For hepatitis B and C, care should be taken to avoid contact with the blood of the infected individual, even the microscopic amounts that hide in toothbrushes and on razors, so never share these items.

Treatment can suppress or even eradicate hepatitis C. Older treatments for hepatitis C are combination antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

The treatment came with difficult side effects, and was effective for only about 40 to 80 percent of patients, depending on the type of hepatitis C they carried.

Newer drugs approved by the FDA in 2013 and 2014 are more effective, curing the viral infection for 90 percent of patients or more. New antiviral medications to treat hepatitis C include simeprevir (Olysio) and sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), and combination therapies include Harvoni and Viekira Pak.

Preventing Hepatitis

Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B for at-risk individuals, such as health care workers.

“For hepatitis A, vaccination for those patients with risk of exposure or known exposure can prevent transmission of the disease,” says Kimberly Brown, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“Patients who live with someone with hepatitis B, have a sexual partner with hepatitis B, are born to a mother with hepatitis B, or are health care workers should be vaccinated [against hepatitis B]. Since there is no vaccination for hepatitis C, patients need to be aware that avoiding blood-to-blood contact with infected individuals is critical.”

The best approach is to take all precautions to avoid hepatitis. This includes avoiding sexual or blood contact with someone who may be infected and discussing your concerns with your doctor if you feel that you may be at risk.

Written by: Wyatt Myers, Everyday Health

Medically reviewed by: Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Can You Risk Not Using Condoms to Protect Against STDs?

Switching out condoms for a more intimate form of birth control is a big step in your relationship. But knowledge is your best defense against unwanted consequences, such as STDs and conceiving.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel closer to the person you love. Perhaps you’ve been dating for a long time and share an unshakable emotional connection and an intense sexual chemistry. Maybe, after spending so much time together, both in and out of the bedroom, that little rubber barrier that stands between you is beginning to feel like an unnecessary nuisance. For many couples, choosing a non-barrier method of birth control in lieu of condoms is a totally natural event in the formation of a long-term relationship. However, before taking the plunge, there are facts you should know, precautions you should take, and conversations you should definitely have with your partner.

The ABCs of STDs

The spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. One in three men and women has contracted at least one STD by the age of 24. While new medical treatments and tests have given many people a new lease on life after having such illnesses, the fact remains the same: Most STDs are lifelong conditions, some of which can have very serious long-term effects, especially for women, whose sexual organs are largely internal.

Just because you can’t see the symptoms of an STD doesn’t mean it isn’t there. For example, each year, an estimated three million people are infected with Chlamydia, which is sometimes referred to as the silent STD because often it produces no symptoms. As a result, many men and women don’t know they have it. Furthermore, up to 40 percent of women with untreated chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in infertility. Complications in men are rarer.

Know your partner. Sit down with your partner and have a discussion at length about your sexual histories. Depending on what kind of a dynamic your relationship has, this may feel awkward. However, it is absolutely necessary for you to know who your partner was with before you and vice versa. If there were any strange physical symptoms or sexual anomalies during sexual experiences either of you have had in the past, now is the time to be open with each other.

Discuss the consequences. What will be your course of action if you become pregnant? Regardless of what choice you’d make, would your partner be supportive of that choice? Even with another form of birth control, removing the barrier method heightens your likelihood of conceiving, and it’s always important to be clear in your communication with your partner.

Get tested together. Set up an appointment to get tested together and keep that box of condoms handy until you receive the results. When you do hear from the doctor, show your results to your partner and ask him to do the same. As an act of trust, it will bring you emotionally closer together, and seeing test results is the only way for sure to know what you’re signing up for when you’re not using condoms.

It’s wonderful to trust your partner, but it’s even better to know the two of you are safe and healthy. Get tested — and free your mind for other things!

By Dr. Laura Berman

10 Essential Facts About Chlamydia.

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States, but most people don’t realize they have it. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If you’re sexually active, you may have had chlamydia at some point in your life. These 10 facts show that while it’s a common bacterial infection, chlamydia can have serious consequences.

1. Chlamydia is common, but many people don’t realize they have it. About 1.4 million chlamydia infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014, but the real number is likely higher because chlamydia is considered an underreported infection.

“The number of reported cases is substantially lower than the true estimated incidence,” says Bradley Stoner MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and former president of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association.

“Most recent data suggest there are more than 2.8 million cases in the United States annually,” says Dr. Stoner. “And unfortunately, chlamydia rates are up this year.”

2. Chlamydia is caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia infection, which usually occurs in the genital tract: the cervix in women and the penis in men. In both women and men, the bacteria may also infect the rectum and the throat.

“Infections are spread during any kind of sexual activity — vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse,” says Jonathan Schaffir, MD, an ob/gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Sexual activity between same-sex partners can also result in a chlamydia infection, sometimes of the rectum or throat in both men and women.

3. Young sexually active women are most susceptible. Women between ages 15 and 24 are most likely to be newly infected with chlamydia, according to the CDC, but anyone who is sexually active — male or female — can be infected. Men who have oral or anal sex with men are also at risk, notes the CDC.

4. Chlamydia is only contagious from person to person. You can only get chlamydia by having sexual intercourse with an infected person, not from casual contact, clothing, or contaminated food or water.

“The chlamydia organism lives only in human cells and cannot be transmitted by external contact, such as towels or toilet seats,” Dr. Schaffir says.

5. Symptoms can differ for men and women. “By and large, most cases of chlamydia are asymptomatic — they are picked up by screening, which is why it’s so important to have good screening programs in place,” notes Stoner. Men or women who have chlamydia symptoms may experience painful urination.

Women may also have these symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Smelly discharge from the cervix
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding between periods

And men may have these symptoms:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Painful testicles

6. Chlamydia infection may have long-term health consequences. For women, long-term effects of an untreated chlamydia infection may include:

  • Severe infection with pain and fever requiring a hospital stay
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, an infection of the upper reproductive tract
  • Scarring in the reproductive tract that causes infertility

Men are less likely than women to have major health problems linked to chlamydia. But infection can sometimes result in arthritis in both men and women, along with painful urination and conjunctivitis (pink eye).

7. A woman can pass chlamydia on to her newborn during childbirth. In addition to the unpleasant and painful symptoms of infection, chlamydia can cause serious problems for newborns. When a baby is exposed to the mother’s untreated infection during childbirth, the infant can contract eye infections and pneumonia, notes the March of Dimes.

8. Antibiotics are a highly effective cure for chlamydia infection. These include:

  • Zithromax (Azithromycin)
  • Doryx (Doxycycline) 

A single oral dose of Zithromax is the most common treatment. Other drugs may be given in varying doses for a period of up to a week. Most cases of chlamydia clear up within a week after you start on antibiotics.

9. You can get chlamydia more than once. With some diseases, having one infection makes you immune to future infections. That’s not the case with chlamydia, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. If you’re in a sexual relationship with an infected person, you could get chlamydia again even if you’ve just completed treatment.

  • “Both partners should be treated before reinitiating sexual intercourse to prevent relapse,” Schaffir says.

     

10. Chlamydia can be prevented. The most effective way to prevent infection is through proper screening at your routine doctor’s visit. Always use latex condoms when having intercourse of any kind, including oral, to reduce your risk of infection. Abstaining from sexual contact is another way to prevent the spread of chlamydia.

  • Screening for chlamydia is painless: It usually simply involves testing a urine sample, or if you are a woman, a specimen swabbed from your vagina.

    You should be screened annually for chlamydia if you are:

    • A sexually active woman under age 25
    • A woman over 25 who has multiple sexual partners
    • A woman whose sexual partner may have multiple sexual partners
    • Are pregnant (pregnant women should be screened as early as possible in the pregnancy, with a screening again in the third trimester)
    • At increased risk for other health reasons

    “I would emphasize that young women should be screened if they engage in any sexual behavior that puts them at risk, because [chlamydia] often has no symptoms, and early treatment is important to avoid long-term damage and infertility,” Schaffir says.

    “If you think you have been exposed to chlamydia,” Stoner says, “see your healthcare provider to receive antibiotic medication to prevent the onset of infection.”

 

Article by Mark Henricks of Everyday Health

 

 

 

What is bacterial vaginosis and how is it spread?

The most common vaginal infection among American women, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can be spread through sexual contact.

Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that can be caused by a bacterial imbalance in the vagina or transmitted through sexual contact.

It’s the most common type of vaginal infection in American women.

And it’s surprisingly prevalent among pregnant women: Sixteen percent of expectant mothers in the United States have bacterial vaginosis.

Causes of BV

Bacteria naturally occur in the vagina, but there are both “good” and “bad” types of bacteria.

There’s a careful balance between the good and bad bacteria that live in the vagina, and when that balance is disrupted, bacterial vaginosis can occur.

What causes this bacterial imbalance isn’t exactly known, but there seems to be some evidence that it can be a sexually transmitted disease.

“We know that women who have multiple sexual partners or women who have a new sexual partner are at a higher risk of getting bacterial vaginosis,” says Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, MPH, director of applied science at the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, Texas.

“Male sexual partners of these women carry these bacteria in the penis, so there is evidence of sexual exchange.”

But, says Dr. Shuford, sexual contact is not the only method of infection. “Women who have had no sexual contact their whole lives can still get bacterial vaginosis.”

BV Symptoms

Some women have bacterial vaginosis and don’t have any symptoms.

But when symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Vaginal discharge that may be white or gray in color
  • Discharge with a strong, foul odor
  • Vaginal odor that is particularly strong, with a fishy smell after sex
  • Vaginal itching
  • Painful or burning urination

Risk Factors and Complications of BV

Having sex with someone who has bacterial vaginosis, as well as having multiple sex partners or a new sex partner, can put you at risk for the infection, says Shuford.

Douching can also increase the risk, as it disrupts the balance of bacteria in the vagina.

The complications and health risks of bacterial vaginosis can be serious if the infection isn’t treated.

Untreated vaginosis can lead to:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is an inflammation of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and even the ovaries.

Shuford notes that PID can lead to a number of complications, including infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

Pregnancy complications Pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis may be at a higher risk for having low-birth-weight babies, says Shuford, as well as premature rupture of the membranes (your water breaks too early).

Greater risk of other sexually transmitted infection Women who have bacterial vaginosis are at greater risk of getting HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Increased risk of postsurgical infection Women who have bacterial vaginosis may be more likely to develop an infection after surgeries affecting the reproductive system, such as a hysterectomy or an abortion.

BV Treatment

Bacterial vaginosis is easily diagnosed using a sample of vaginal fluid and is treated with a simple round of antibiotics.

Antibiotics may be given orally or in the form of a topical cream or ointment inserted in the vagina, notes Shuford.

Bacterial vaginosis can recur, even after antibiotic treatment. It’s important to make sure you take all of the antibiotics as prescribed.

Treatment of male sexual partners is generally not recommended.

By Diana Rodriguez

Is your HIV treatment working?

HIV treatment can become ineffective for a number of reasons, which can raise your viral load and trigger symptoms.

Current treatments available for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are very effective, allowing people with the virus to live long and relatively healthy lives. However, sometimes your specific treatment can start to fail, which can raise your viral load and trigger symptoms. It’s important to know the signs of treatment failure and what you can do to help prevent it.

Routine Blood Testing for Effective HIV Treatment

The answers you need to keep your HIV treatment on track come from the results of a blood test that measures your viral load. Your treatment regimen is considered effective if it’s able to control HIV to the point that the virus is virtually undetectable in your body. The virus is still present, but the viral load level is low enough that HIV is considered controlled.

When an HIV treatment regimen fails, the virus begins to multiply and mutate, or change, which can lead to disease progression and eventually AIDS.

For this reason, routine blood testing is extremely important. Symptoms that indicate HIV treatment failure don’t show up until several months after a treatment stops working, says Laura Guderian, MD, primary care physician at One Medical Group in New York City. But your doctor can determine if your regimen is working much sooner using blood tests to monitor your viral load and CD4 count, two important measurements that indicate whether your medication is doing its job.

Viral load is the best indicator of how effective your treatment is, says Dr. Guderian. “An increase in viral load level is the first sign of possible treatment failure.” The higher the viral load level, the more active the virus is in your system.

CD4 cells are the cells in your body that help fight infection. HIV destroys these cells when it attacks your immune system. A goal of antiretroviral therapy as treatment for HIV is to keep your immune system healthy. A low CD4 count alerts your doctor that your medication isn’t working as it should.

Reasons for HIV Treatment Failure

There are a number of possible causes of HIV treatment failure. Skipping medications or not following your regimen as directed can be to blame, so be sure to stick to your treatment plan faithfully.

But some causes of HIV treatment failure may be out of your control. HIV medications may interact with other medications or supplements, making them less effective. Unmanageable side effects from HIV medications can cause treatment interference. In some instances, people don’t get the full dose of medication because their bodies aren’t able to absorb the HIV medication properly.

HIV Drug Resistance

It’s also possible that your type of HIV has developed a resistance to one or more of the HIV drugs in your regimen. This is called drug resistance, and it occurs when the virus mutates in your body and the new form of the virus doesn’t respond to the medication anymore.

“These virus mutations are archived over time, making them a permanent part of the HIV circulating in your body,” says Guderian. “Once the drug-resistant virus develops, it’s always there. This is an irreversible process, making that drug — or sometimes even entire classes of HIV drugs — no longer effective at any point in the future,” she says. However, there’s a wide range of treatment options available when it comes to antiretroviral therapies for HIV, so if this occurs, your doctor should be able to formulate an effective new treatment regimen for you.

Steps to Take to Help Prevent HIV Treatment Failure

You can help avoid HIV drug resistance by taking these steps to prevent it from occurring:

  • Take your medication every day. This helps block HIV replication, says Guderian. Use an alarm on your phone, watch, or another device to make sure you follow your prescribed dosing schedule. Fill prescriptions early, so you don’t risk running out of medication.
  • Take your medication as directed. Some HIV medications must be taken with food to ensure that the drug is properly absorbed into the body. Be sure you know how your medication should be taken.
  • Let your doctor know about side effects or other treatment challenges. It’s essential that you tell your doctor if any side effects — such as nausea, diarrhea, depressed mood, or poor appetite — are making it difficult for you to stick to your HIV treatment regimen. These side effects can usually be managed, and if not, your doctor may prescribe different combinations of medicines for you.
  • Ask your doctor about testing for HIV drug resistance. This type of testing looks for drug-resistant mutations in your specific strain of HIV and is usually done when you’re first diagnosed. This helps determine the medication that will be most effective for you. Testing for drug resistance should be performed again anytime your HIV viral load increases to make sure new drug-resistant mutations haven’t developed.

Article by: Mikel Theobold, Everyday Health

HIV/AIDS: How much do you know?

More than 1 million people live with HIV in the U.S., and it’s estimated that more than 35 million people worldwide have HIV/AIDS. How much do you know about this condition?

Over the last few decades, HIV has changed from a dire prognosis to a chronic condition. A cure has yet to be found, but dedicated researchers have learned how HIV works and how to conduct rapid diagnostic tests and have developed ways to prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS.

Today more than 1 million people live with HIV in the United States, and it’s estimated that more than 35 million people worldwide have HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take this quiz to find out what you know about HIV/AIDS.

http://assessment.everydayhealth.com/hiv-health-how-much-do-you-know/?pos=1&xid=nl_EverydayHealthSexualHealth_20160430#88330e9d-f98f-47c4-9dbc-480ab8a33388

Article by Lauren Cox with Everyday Health

7 Myths about Human Papillomavirus, HPV

The Human Papillomavirus, HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country, affecting about 79 million Americans.

Despite its prevalence, there are several misconceptions about what HPV is, who gets it, and what a diagnosis means.

Here are the most common myths – and facts – about HPV.

1. Myth: Only woman get HPV.

Fact: Men can get HPV too. In fact, most sexually active men and women will have at least one HPV infection at some point in their lives, according to the CDC. Any person who is sexually active can contract HPV, even if you’ve only had one sexual partner.

2. Myth: All strains of HPV cause cancer.

Fact: HPV can cause anal, cervical, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. However, not all strains can cause cancer.

High-risk strains of HPV – the strains that cause cancer – like types 16 and 18 can cause cervical cancer. In fact, these strains account for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. They can also cause other types of cancer. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that high-risk infections cause about 5 percent of all cancers worldwide. However, the National Cancer Institute reports that most high-risk infections go away within 1 to 2 years and do not cause cancer.

Low-risk strains of HPV – the strains that don’t cause cancer, but cause skin lesions – can cause anal or genital warts. Still, after a person contracts HPV, it can take years to decades for cancer to develop, according to the CDC.

3. Myth: If you don’t have sex, you won’t get HPV.

Fact: HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Condoms can lower your risk of contracting HPV, but you can still contract the virus through protected sex if there’s skin-to-skin contact.

4. Myth: Men can get screened for HPV.

Fact: HPV can be diagnosed in women through the use of a Pap test, also called a Pap smear. However, there are no FDA-approved tests to screen for HPV in men.

5. Myth: There are treatment options available for HPV.

Fact: Although healthcare professionals can treat precancerous lesions and genital warts that are caused by HPV infections, there’s no treatment available for the virus itself.

6. Myth: People with HPV always have symptoms.

Fact: Most people who have HPV do not develop any symptoms. Although there are many potential health problems associated with HPV like genital warts and certain types of cancer including cervical cancer, most people don’t develop health problems from an HPV infection. The CDC Reports that in 90 percent of HPV cases, a person’s immune system fights off the infection within two years.

7. Myth: I got the HPV vaccine, so I don’t need to get Pap tests.

Fact: Even if you get the HPV vaccine, you still need to get regular Pap Smears to screen for cervical cancer.  The two HPV vaccines — Gardasil and Cervarix — protect against only the two high-risk strains (types 16 and 18) that cause cancer. The vaccine is a preventive measure and doesn’t help people who are already infected with the virus, which is why they’re recommended for people in their 20s or younger. While both vaccines are available for women, only Gardasil is available for men.

This article by Nancie George at Everyday Health.

STD Symptoms

In some cases, STD symptoms are visible to the naked eye. However, sometimes STD symptoms are a bit more mysterious and can be confused with other heath conditions. For example, genital herpes does not always present itself as multiple, painful looking blisters in the genital area that last for weeks. Depending on the infected individual, a herpes outbreak could consist of one small irritated bump on the lower abdomen that goes away on it’s own in a few days. Most people would attribute this type of “outbreak” to a pimple, razor burn or some other minor skin irritation. In most situations, the thought of having herpes, or any other STD for that matter, would not cross the mind of someone having this minor symptom. However, while this small, irritated bump is ignored, the herpes virus would more than likely be passed to any individual coming in contact with it. The same holds true for the human papillomavirus when it presents itself as genital warts. The STD symptoms associated with genital warts even when present are often not visible to the naked eye. Genital warts can be microscopic and flesh colored, making them nearly impossible to see or even feel. The same is true of genital warts as it is with genital herpes. Both viruses are passed via skin to skin contact with an infected partner. Both of these viruses, along with syphilis, do not require the exchange of body fluids in order to be transmitted. Therefore, wearing a condom does not protect individuals from contracting these STDs simply because skin to skin contact still occurs even with the use of a condom. We certainly aren’t insinuating that condoms are not a necessity. Preventing the exchange of body fluids during sexual contact is extremely important. However, it is important to realize that a condom does not protect individuals against all STDS.

Find out what other STD symptoms you should be worried about by clicking the link below:

http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/stds-photos/the-warning-signs-of-stds.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthWomensHealth_20120615