HIV Status and STD’s +
HIV POSITIVE PEOPLE & STDS
HIV attacks your immune system, which your body needs to fight infections. When your immune system is compromised, here are some things to consider:
An STD infection may be more severe and difficult to treat. Viral infections like herpes or warts are more likely to recur more often.
Infection with another STD, like gonorrhea, can dramatically increase the amount of HIV in your body (viral load) because the immune system is fighting both HIV infection and the other STD.
An increased viral load could mean greater risk to your health, and could also be misinterpreted as HIV drug failure. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible STDs you have before switching your drug regimen.
An increased viral load can make transmitting HIV to another person more likely.
Many STDs are likely to trigger HIV replication and progression because they stimulate an immune system response. That response includes the activation of dormant HIV in immune cells, which leads to the production of new HIV and the infection of further cells.
An increased viral load can make transmitting HIV to another person more likely.
Some antibiotics used to treat STDs may not be as successful.
HIV NEGATIVE PEOPLE & STDS
STDs can cause the skin or membranes of your cock, ass, throat and vagina to become sore, inflamed or bleed. This makes it easier for HIV, and possibly other STDs, to get into your bloodstream, increasing the chance of infection.
What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a type of bacteria called Treponema pallidum.
How many gay men in Seattle have it?
Syphilis has made an astounding comeback in Seattle and King County — an 82 percent increase from 2009 to 2010, with 9 out of 10 cases showing up in gay and bi men. During the first three months of 2011 syphilis cases are double what they were this time last year. Syphilis was almost eliminated in gay and bi men in King County in the early 1990s. Now we have more cases of syphilis in a year than new diagnoses of HIV! And syphilis is 15 times higher in gay/bi men who are living with HIV than in gay/bi men who do not have HIV.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are easy to miss, and easy to mistake for something else. Even if you don’t notice symptoms, you can still have syphilis. Each stage of syphilis looks different.
The first symptom of syphilis is a raised sore called a chancre. It usually shows up on the genitals, mouth, or rectum one to three weeks after exposure. The sore is painless, but DON’T IGNORE IT! It can last for several weeks and go away by itself. When the sore goes away, it doesn’t mean that syphilis is gone. Without treatment, it will progress to the next stage. Click the link to see photos of chancres. Graphic Photos.
This stage usually starts with a reddish-brown, spotted rash on one or more areas of the body. Most often the rash appears on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. It can also show up elsewhere on the body. The rash usually does not itch. Sometimes it’s very subtle. The rash can appear as the chancre is healing or many weeks after the chancre has gone away. It may come and go for up to two years. Other symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, patchy hair loss, weight loss, and headache. These symptoms usually last from 2 to 6 weeks and will clear up on their own. If not treated, syphilis will still be present. Click the link to see photos of syphilis rashes. Graphic Photos.
The latent stage of syphilis begins when secondary symptoms go away. During this stage there are no signs or symptoms. The infection can be detected only by a blood test. A relapse of secondary syphilis can occur during the first two years of latency. If not treated, latent syphilis continues for life and may progress to the final stage.
Tertiary (Late) Syphilis
About one-third of people who don’t get treated suffer serious damage to the brain, nervous system, heart, or other organs. Tertiary syphilis can cause paralysis, dementia, blindness, deafness, heart failure, and even death. Treatment at this stage will cure the disease and stop future damage. But it cannot repair or reverse damage that has already occurred.
How do you get syphilis?
Syphilis is usually passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore during oral, vaginal or anal sex. Because syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, rectum or mouth, it may not be obvious that a sex partner has syphilis. A pregnant woman can also transmit syphilis to her unborn baby. This is called congenital syphilis. If you want to know about congenital syphilis, click here.
How can I protect myself from getting syphilis?
The only sure way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have sex (abstinence). If you do have sex:
- Have sex with one partner (monogamy) who is not infected and has sex only with you.
- Talk with your partner(s) about syphilis and other STDs. Work out a plan to reduce risk that feels comfortable for you both.
- Have sex with fewer people. More partners = more risk.
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Condoms must cover the actual sores to prevent transmission. A condom can protect the penis, anus and vagina. But a condom may not keep you from touching sores on other body parts such as your partner’s balls, scrotum or inside his mouth.
- Don’t have sex if you see an unusual sore or rash on your body or your partner’s body.
Information worth repeating:
You can get syphilis sores in your mouth or throat. You may not see them. They are not painful. SYPHILIS IS EASY TO GET THROUGH ORAL SEX! If you’re having sex, any kind of sex, it’s important to get tested for syphilis and other STDs regularly.
Is there a cure for syphilis?
Yes. Proper treatment will cure syphilis. It’s usually treated with a single shot of a high powered antibiotic. See a health care provider for an exam and tests to figure out the best treatment for you. After treatment, get a follow-up exam to make sure the treatment has worked.
If you have syphilis, tell each of your sex partners so they can get treated also. Do not have sex with a partner who has syphilis until he or she completes treatment.
You can get infected with syphilis again after you’ve been cured. It’s important for your partners to get treated so they won’t re-infect you.
What about HIV?
Over half of local syphilis cases are in men who have HIV. If you have HIV, syphilis can cause more harm.
- If you already have HIV, it can be easier to get syphilis. If you get syphilis, your HIV may make it easier to transmit both HIV and syphilis to others.
- Having HIV may make syphilis progress more quickly.
- If you have HIV, it may take longer to treat and cure syphilis.
- If you don’t have HIV, having syphilis or another STD can make it easier to get HIV.
Getting treated for syphilis can help you stay healthy and reduce the likelihood that you’ll pass syphilis to sex partners.
If you have HIV and are sexually active, it’s especially important to get tested regularly for syphilis and other STDs.
If you don’t have HIV, get tested regularly for HIV and other STDs.
For more information on the connection between HIV, syphilis and other STDs, click here.
What’s the test for syphilis?
It’s a simple blood test. If you’re sexually active, you can make syphilis testing part of your routine, just like testing for HIV and other STDs. If you already have HIV and are sexually active, get tested regularly for syphilis and other STDs.
How often should I get tested for syphilis?
At least once a year if you’re sexually active. Public Health also recommends that you get tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV (if you don’t already have it) at least once a year. If any of the following apply to you, you should get tested for syphilis every 3 months:
- You have had chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis in the last year.
- You used methamphetamine or poppers in the last year.
- You had 10 or more sex partners (oral or anal) in the last year.
- You’ve had anal sex without a condom with partners whose HIV status is different than yours or whose HIV status you do not know.
For more information and locations, call 206-296-4649 or click here.
If you are sexually active and you notice a sore or rash
(or any other syphilis symptoms)
GET TESTED RIGHT AWAY!
Syphilis is curable.
And it’s easier to treat the earlier it’s caught!
Take the Syphilis in Seattle Quiz here . . . THEN GET TESTED!
Check out our RESOURCE SECTION for plenty of testing options