STDs are more common than you think

STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, and STIs, or sexually transmitted infections, are common; in fact, there are more than 20 million infections every year in the United States, and almost half occur in young people ages 15 to 24. Fortunately, STDs are preventable and many are treatable.

STDs are passed from one person to another through sexual activity, and less commonly, through intimate physical contact. STDs do not always cause symptoms, which is why getting tested is important. Here are some common disease and infections that you may not know about.

  • Bacterial vaginosis Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs in women occurs when there’s an imbalance of good and harmful bacteria in a woman’s vagina. Symptoms include a thin white or gray vaginal discharge, pain, itching, burning and a strong fish-like odor.
  • Chlamydia Chlamydia can occur in both men and women, and it causes serious damage to a woman’s reproductive system. In women, symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge and burning during urination. In men, symptoms include discharge from the penis, burning during urination and pain and swelling in one or both testicles. The disease can also cause rectal pain, discharge and bleeding.
  • GonorrheaGonorrhea can infect men and women and can cause infections in the throat, genitals or rectum. It is common among people ages 15 to 24. Although some people do not have symptoms, if they occur, they may be burning during urination, increased vaginal discharge, bleeding in between periods, discharge from the penis and swollen testicles. Rectal infections cause discharge, anal itching, soreness and painful bowel movements.
  • HepatitisHepatitis is inflammation of the liver and is often caused by a virus. There are several different viruses. Hepatitis viruses can be transmitted in other ways, but some forms are sexually transmitted. Symptoms can vary but include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice.
  • Herpes Herpes is caused by two viruses and can occur in the genitals or orally. The STD is common—one in six people aged 14 to 49 have genital herpes. Most people do not have symptoms.
  • HIV HIV is human immunodeficiency virus and is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. People who have had an STD have an increased risk of getting HIV.
  • HPV infectionHPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Some strains of HPV can cause genital warts while others cause no symptoms at all. A different strain of HPV can cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and throat. Many women learn of the infection from their gynecologist after a routine pap smear that indicates abnormal cell growth and the possibility of cervical precancer. Vaccines can prevent some strains of HPV and are recommended for boys or girls at age 11 or 12.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – When STDs go untreated, they can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can damage the reproductive organs.
  • SyphilisSyphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that, if left untreated, can cause serious health problems. It can causes sores on the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, lips or mouth. It can also be passed from an infected mother to an unborn baby. Without treatment, the infection will spread to the brain and nervous system.
  • Trichomoniasis – Trichomoniasis is also known as “trich,” and is a common STD caused by a protozoan parasite. The STD is very treatable, but many people do not have symptoms and develop symptoms days or weeks after infection. In men, symptoms include itching or irritation in the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation or discharge from the penis. In women, symptoms include itching or burning in the genitals, discomfort during urination and a change in vaginal discharge with an unusual fishy smell. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or years.

Patients are often embarrassed to discuss their sexual health, but not getting treatment can worsen symptoms. Know how to protect yourself against STDs, and speak with your doctor if you have concerns or need screening. Most screenings can be done with a simple urine or blood test.

You can protect yourself from STDs with abstinence, condoms, being in a mutually monogamous relationship and reducing your number of sex partners. There are also vaccines and medications that can help to prevent some STDs.

Do you need STD screening?

Speak with your primary care provider or contact your local health department for confidential STD screening. Some local treatment and testing sites are also listed below.

Morgan County Public Health
345 W State St.
Jacksonville, IL 62650
(217) 245-5111
Monday 1 – 6 p.m.
Free and confidential

Priority STD Testing
273 North Westgate Avenue
Jacksonville, IL 62650
(217) 636-3813
Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. – noon

Testing Offered:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Herpes I/II
  • HIV
  • Trich
  • Syphilis
  • Hair Follicle Drug Testing

Phoenix Community Center
109 E Lawrence Ave
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) 528-5253
Services Offered:

  • Free Hepatitis C Test
  • Free HIV Test
  • Free STD Test
  • Hepatitis C Test
  • Rapid HIV Blood Test

Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Springfield Health Center
1000 East Washington
Springfield, IL 62703
(877) 200-7745
Services Offered:

  • Chlamydia Test
  • Gonorrhea Test
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine
  • Herpes Test
  • HPV Vaccine
  • Rapid HIV Blood Test
  • Syphilis Test

Springfield Urban League Incorporated
Health Initiatives Resources Center
1551 East Madison Ave.
Springfield, IL 62703
Services Offered:

  • Conventional HIV Oral Test
  • Free HIV Test
  • Rapid HIV Oral Test

Fifth Street Renaissance/SARA Center
1315 N 5th St
Springfield, IL 62702
(217) 544-5040
Services Offered:

  • Conventional HIV Blood Test
  • Free HIV Test
  • Rapid HIV Blood Test