Is HIV an STD: 101 Guide to the Deadly Disease

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What do you think, “is HIV an STD?”

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that can progress to a disease called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, while HIV infection can’t be treated, a sexually transmitted disease can increase your chances of getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are infections that spread from person to person through sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Many health care professionals use the term infection instead of a disease because the person with an infection may have no symptoms but requires treatment, whereas (STI) infection can become an untreated disease.

is hiv an std
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What is an STD?

STD stands for sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are also sexually transmitted infections that are spread by sexual activities, including oral sex, vaginal, and anal. Parasites, viruses, and bacteria can cause STDs.

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that can progress to the disease known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are syphilis, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus infection, Chlamydia, and herpes.

The immune system becomes weaker, making it hard for the body to fight against infection and cancer like cervical cancer.

Symptoms of STDs

The symptoms of STDs depend upon the different sexually transmitted infections. Not every patient experiences the same symptoms.

Some symptoms are painful urination, unusual bleeding from the vagina or penis, unusual discharge from the vagina or penis, fever, sores or bumps in the genital area, pain during sexual activities, lower abdominal pain, and swelling in the lymph node, and odorous vaginal fluid.

The symptoms may be different for different sexually transmitted infections or different patients. Many patients infected by sexually transmitted diseases may have little or no symptoms.

Sometimes, untreated gonorrhea and genital herpes can lead to the passing of HIV to the sexual partners. One can get HIV for following the reasons;

  • Having unprotected vaginal or anal sex, getting HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids inside your body, some people get HIV from infected blood transfusions. But now, giving or getting blood in medical centers is safe.

Diagnosis of STDs and HIV

The healthcare professional provides tests regarding the diagnosis of STDs and HIV using a blood test, urine culture, fluid sample, swabbed culture, and physical examination. A blood test is used to confirm the diagnosis of HIV.

Self-obtained vaginal swabs can also make the diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases. It is one of the major NIAID-supported workshops.

Screening

The person who doesn’t have the symptoms but tests for the diseases is known as “screening.” As sexually transmitted infection screening is not part of health care, it is recommended for women age 21 and older who are sexually active.

The person is recommended for a saliva and blood test for STDs and HIV test for ages 13–64 by the doctor.

People with HIV

If the person has been detected with HIV, it dramatically increases the risk of infection from other sexually transmitted infections. Healthcare experts recommend the immediate testing of syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes if the person has been diagnosed as positive for HIV. Experts also recommend screening for hepatitis B.

Pregnant women

All pregnant women will be screened at least once for HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and syphilis to detect the risk of any STD.

People who have a new partner

Before having sexual contact with the new partners, you must have both been interested in STIs and routine testing for herpes for sexual health. It is also possible to have negative results if you have recently been affected by other STIs.

STD Treatment

Treating STDs caused by bacteria like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis is easier by using antibiotics. But viral infections like HPV, herpes and hepatitis B are difficult to manage and can not be cured but can be controlled using vaccines such as HPV vaccination and therapy.

If a pregnant woman is detected with STDs, getting the right treatment can greatly reduce the risk of the infection in the baby.

Treating sexually transmitted infections depends on the infectants (viruses, bacteria, or parasites). Some of the treatments may include:

1. Antiviral drugs

Suppose the patient is detected to have human papillomavirus, herpes, HIV, or hepatitis B caused by the virus. In that case, the antiviral drugs can help reduce the risk of transmission of the infection.

If the person has been detected with HIV, the doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can reduce a load of virus in the blood. The person will have to take daily suppressive therapy for the prescription antiviral drug.

The sooner the patient starts the HIV treatment, the more effective it is. If the person takes medications as directed by the doctor, it is possible to reduce the viral load in the blood, so it can’t be detected easily, and there is a low risk of infection for transmission.

2. Antibiotics

Suppose the patient is detected with a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. In that case, a single dose of antibiotic will cure many bacteria and viral, parasitic infections, including trichomoniasis, syphilis, and Chlamydia.

Once the person is on antibiotic treatment, it is important to finish it with the proper direction and prescription.

Generally, the person will be treated for gonorrhea and chlamydia simultaneously because they occur and give the appearance of their symptoms.

HIV treatment

It is important to get tested and get proper treatment to reduce the chances of severe complications and spreading HIV to others.

But stopping the treatment of HIV can worsen the AIDS and increase the risk of passing the virus to sexual partners.

HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) involves taking medicine with the healthcare provider so that the treatment reduces the amount of virus in the body and helps you stay healthy. As there is no cure for HIV, we can control it with therapies.

There are two types of HIV treatment;

Pills (for people just starting HIV treatment) and shots (for people who have had undetectable viral suppression for three months).

Taking HIV medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider can help you keep your body’s viral load low. It can make the viral load so low that the test can’t be detected.

Continue taking your treatment as prescribed. If it goes down, that means the HIV treatment is working. If you escape the treatment, there are higher chances of rapidly multiplying the virus, which can affect your immune system, and you could become sick.

HIV treatment can prevent the transmission of the infection through sexual contact. Having an undetectable viral load reduces the risk of HIV transmission through sharing needles and syringes. Having an undetectable viral load also prevents perinatal transmission throughout pregnancy and childbirth.

HIV and STI prevention

The most effective way to prevent or avoid other STDs is to reduce sexual activities. If you are sexually active, then you can prevent it by using some HIV prevention options;

  • Use new condoms correctly in the entire sex act from start to finish.
  • Avoid the unprotected sex to prevent HIV
  • Avoid sexual activity with multiple partners.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or after sex.
  • Have an open talk with your partner and health care providers and ask them about STD testing.
  • Don’t share needles of any kind with anyone.
  • Make sure to use the barrier methods correctly every time during sexual activity.

HIV treatment side effects

HIV treatment also causes some side effects in people, but not everyone. Some of the most common side effects include nausea and vomiting, rashes, pain in the injection sites, poor digestion, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and dry mouth.

Some people also find that HIV treatment can become harder over time, but have an open discussion with your health care provider to stay in your plan.

The link between STDs and HIV

Having an STD can make it easier to get infected with HIV. An STD can cause a break in the skin, allowing HIV easy entry into the host body. The risk of HIV has also increased the risk of other STIs.

Many STDs are more closely linked with HIV than others. A 2010 study in Florida found that 50% of people with infectious syphilis also had HIV. Gonorrhea and herpes have also been found to have strong links to HIV.

These factors may include the following factors:

  • Having sexual activities with multiple partners, especially anonymous partners,
  • Having vaginal, anal, or oral sex without any protection
  • Having sex after alcohol or injecting drugs can affect a person’s judgment and lead to risky behaviors.

Conclusion: Is HIV an STD?

If a person gets an STD, they are more likely to get HIV than someone who is STD-free. The same behavior and circumstances put the person at the highest risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease and a greater risk of getting infected with HIV and other STIs.

If a person is sexually active, they should get tested for STDs and HIV regularly, even if they don’t have the symptoms. Multiple sexual contacts can transmit HIV; if left untreated, it can be enough to transmit HIV to your sexual partner.

According to the CDC, HIV weakens a person’s immune system by destroying the important cells that fight disease and infections.

There is currently no effective cure for HIV, but with more proper medical care, HIV can be controlled so that the risks of AIDs can be reduced. Reproductive health is a very important aspect of healthy lives.

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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