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AIDS
An acronym that stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). AIDS is the diagnosis given to a person when they have a collection of symptoms and infections that result from an immune system that has been weakened by HIV.

Anonymous Testing
A type of reporting used when providing HIV test results to the health department. Anonymous testing means that test results are reported to the health department by using a code, not a person’s real name.

Antibiotics
Medications that are prescribed by a health care provider to treat and cure infections caused by bacteria or fungi.

Bacteria
A tiny organism that causes an infection in the body. Many sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., chlamydia) are transmitted through bacteria, and can be cured with antibiotics.

Bacterial vaginosis
Also known as “BV”, this is the most common vaginal infection in women. It is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, pain or burning. Bacterial vaginosis develops when there is an imbalance in the bacteria normally found in the vagina, and can sometimes be triggered by sexual behaviors. It can cause serious complications during pregnancy if it is not cured beforehand.

Chlamydia
A sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria that often has no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can include burning during urination, discharge and bleeding during intercourse for girls. For guys, pain during urination and a watery discharge are common symptoms.

Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States and is the leading cause of preventable infertility and ectopic pregnancy since it can cause scarring and damage to the female reproductive system if it is not treated early. Because chlamydia is a bacterial infection, it can be cured with antibiotics.

Crabs
A slang term for “pubic lice.”

An STD that is caused by a parasite. Pubic lice live in pubic hair and lay their eggs. They can cause intense itching, especially at night. Public lice can be sexually transmitted but can also be transmitted if people share towels or other linens. They are cured with anti-lice medicated shampoo and body wash, such as Kwell, which can be purchased in a drug store.

Gonorrhea
A sexually transmitted disease that is bacterial. Symptoms in guys include a pus-like discharge from the penis and an increased need to urinate. In girls and women, there may be discharge from the vagina. Many people will not have any symptoms. Gonorrhea can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Also referred to as “the clap” or “the drip.”

Hepatitis B
A sexually transmitted disease caused by a virus that can result in serious liver damage, even death. Infection occurs through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or saliva. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine and jaundice. Hepatitis B has a vaccine to prevent infection.

Herpes
A sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It can also be transmitted non-sexually (such as through kissing) and causes small, blister-like sores (cold sores) around the mouth or genitals. Herpes type 1 is typically associated with sores around the mouth, while Herpes type 2 is typically associated with sores around the genitals or anus. Genital herpes cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated using antiviral medications.

Hepatitis C
A sexually transmitted disease caused by a virus that can cause liver damage. Infection occurs through contact with another person’s infected blood, most often from sharing needles with someone who already has Hepatitis C. There are usually no symptoms associated with Hepatitis C. It is diagnosed through a blood test.

HIV Test
A blood test or oral swab test to detect antibodies to HIV testing should occur 3-6 months after exposure to HIV in order to be accurate.

Parasite
A tiny organism that causes scabies and pubic lice, which can be cured easily by medication.

Scabies
A sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a mite (a kind of insect) that burrows under the skin, causing intense itching and the formation of pus. Scabies can be cured by using medicated shampoo, which can be purchased at a drug store.

STI
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. Sexually transmitted infections can also be called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Syphilis
A sexually transmitted disease that is caused by bacteria and results in chancres or painless sores in the genital area. It can be transmitted when an infected person comes into contact with another uninfected person’s vagina, penis, anus or mouth. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but if left untreated, can cause brain damage and even death.

Vaginal Discharge
The small amount of fluid that is released every day from a vagina. On a typical day, its purpose is to clean the vagina. The amount and consistency of fluid released varies throughout the month. When a girl or woman is getting close to ovulation, the discharge will be thin and stringy, almost like an egg white; other days it may be cloudy or yellowish. If the discharge is ever greenish or greyish or has a foul or musty smell, it may mean that a girl or woman has an infection and she should make an appointment with a healthcare provider right away.

Virus
A tiny organism that can cause infections. Some sexually transmitted diseases are caused by viruses. With these, the symptoms of the diseases can be treated but the viruses themselves can’t be cured. These include hepatitis-B, herpes, HPV and HIV.