Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases are also called STDs (and sometimes they are referred to as sexually transmitted infections). STDs do not refer to any one disease but include more than 25 infectious organisms. STDs are caused by bacteria or viruses. STDs are almost always spread from person to person by sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex. Some STDs, such as syphilis, hepatitis B/C virus and HIV, can also be transmitted from person to person by the sharing of contaminated needles or equipment to inject drugs, body piercing or tattooing.


You can protect yourself and others from sexually-transmitted diseases by practicing safer sex. more


Many STDs produce no symptoms, mostly in the early stages of illness. There may or may not be signs or symptoms, and you can be infected without knowing it. If someone, such as your sex partner or the Department of Health, tells you that you have been exposed to an STD, it is very important that you get tested and treated immediately.If symptoms are present, they may include the following:

  • Men: discharge from the penis, burning sensation when urinating, one or more sore(s) or wart(s) on or around the genital area or mouth, skin rashes (including the palms and soles), and unexplained hair loss
  • Women: unusual vaginal discharge, intense itching/burning, pain during intercourse, other pelvic pain (unrelated to the menstrual cycle), one or more sore(s) or wart(s) on or around the genital area or mouth, skin rashes (including the palms and soles), and unexplained hair loss. It is very common for women to have no symptoms with STDs, mostly in the early stages of illness. This can result in not getting treatment until the illness is severe, when symptoms do become present. Not getting treated early can cause serious problems like infertility (not being able to get pregnant) and ectopic pregnancy (implantation of the fetus in the fallopian tube, instead of the uterus – a life-threatening condition).


In order to diagnose and treat an STD, your doctor will take a detailed sexual history, conduct a thorough physical examination, and order several laboratory tests, including a test for HIV. Your doctor will also provide you with detailed information to prevent transmission of your STD to any of your sexual partner(s). Most physicians urge patients to tell their sex partners if they have an STD so that their partners can seek medical attention. People who are diagnosed with an STD may be contacted by public health professionals to assure that their sex partners are counseled, evaluated, and treated.


The treatment of STDs is infection-specific and in accordance with national practice standards.