Learning you have a sexually transmitted infection is never ideal, particularly when you find out you’ve contracted one with a grim outlook. While there’s no cure for some STDs, treatment options are often available to lessen or alleviate symptoms. When it comes to your s*xual health, there’s no better time to play it safe. Here are five incurable STDs, and the best treatment options for each.
private part herpes includes two types of viruses: herpes simplex 1, which tends to live around the mouth in the form of cold sores, and herpes simplex 2, which usually lives around the private parts. When most people think of herpes, images of blisters around the private part region come to mind. During an outbreak, these fluid-filled blisters will appear, and eventually break, leaving painful sores for about two weeks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six people in the U.S. ages 14 to 49 has private part herpes. Although the virus lives in the blisters’ fluid, a person who shows no symptoms (such as sores) or is unaware they’ve contracted herpes can still infect their partner, as the virus can also spread through skin contact.
Treatment options if you have herpes
Surprisingly enough, most people who have the virus don’t actually know it. Because sores commonly exist on the skin and around the private part region, condoms do not 100% protect a person from contracting herpes, which is why getting tested is so important. If you’ve tested positive for the virus, the CDC says there are medications to help prevent or shorten breakouts. Typically, one medication is taken daily, and it will also lessen the risk of your partner becoming infected as well.
Probably the most well-known (and feared) STD of them all, human immunodeficiency virus severely attacks a person’s immune system, and can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS, when left untreated. HIV is spread through bodily fluids, and destroys the body’s T cells, which are essential to the immune system in fighting off infections and disease.
Despite loads of research, people who become infected with HIV will have it for life, as there is no cure. HIV, which can progress and spread rapidly, has three stages: acute HIV infection, clinical latency, and AIDS.
The three stages of HIV
Acute HIV infection refers to the two to four week period after a person has become infected. During this time, he or she is highly contagious, and usually experiences flu-like symptoms. It’s also possible a person may experience no symptoms at all, or just assume they have the flu, which is why getting tested if you think you’ve been exposed is imperative.
In the clinical latency stage, a person may feel just fine, but HIV is still present, and the virus is reproducing at low levels. If they’re following proper treatment, a person could live in this stage for several decades, and their chances of infecting someone else are lower.
A person enters the final phase, AIDS, when their immune system is so badly damaged that they’re not able to fight off even the most common of illnesses. When left untreated, those with AIDS typically have three years to live.
Treatment options if you have HIV
Antiretroviral therapy is the best method for treating HIV. When taken every day, this treatment can dramatically prolong the life of a person with HIV, keeping them healthy and lowering their chance of infecting others.
Since its introduction in the mid 1990s, antiretroviral therapy has had a great impact on the AIDS epidemic. Prior to this option, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years, whereas today, someone with HIV may live nearly as long as someone who does not have the virus, according to the CDC.