Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) are infections transferred from person to person through sexual contact. Examples of STI’s are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Syphilis and Hepatitis C (HCV). STI’s are associated with increased morbidity (disease) and mortality (death) as well as other severe complications including infertility, liver disease and some forms of cancer. There are numerous ways to reduce the risk of transmission (transfer from one person to another) of STI’s such as using condoms and seeking regular STI testing and treatment.
Genital Herpes: Genital herpes is an STI caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. You can get it from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth. Symptoms of herpes are called outbreaks. You usually get sores near the area where the virus has entered the body. The sores are blisters that break and become painful and then heal. There are tests that can diagnose genital herpes. There is no cure.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a common STI. It is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It can infect both men and women. Women can get chlamydia in the cervix, rectum, or throat. Men can get chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum, or throat. Chlamydia doesn't usually cause any symptoms. So you may not realize that you have it. People with chlamydia who have no symptoms can still pass the disease to others. If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner.
Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is an STI that is most common in young adults. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea can infect the genital tract, mouth, or anus. You can get gonorrhea during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. A pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth. Gonorrhea does not always cause symptoms. In men, gonorrhea can cause pain when urinating and discharge from the penis. If untreated, it can cause problems with the prostate and testicles. In women, the early symptoms of gonorrhea often are mild. Later, it can cause bleeding between periods, pain when urinating, and increased discharge from the vagina. If untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes problems with pregnancy and infertility. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.
- In 2020, there were 2,910 cases of Gonorrhea in the Baton Rouge MSA.
Syphilis: Syphilis is an STI caused by bacteria. It infects the genital area, lips, mouth, or anus of both men and women. You usually get syphilis from sexual contact with someone who has it. Syphilis is easy to cure with antibiotics if you catch it early. Symptoms can go away and come back. The sores caused by syphilis make it easier to get or give someone HIV during sex.
If you are pregnant, syphilis can cause complications, or you could lose your baby. It can also pass from mother to baby during pregnancy, referred to as congenital syphilis. The early stages of syphilis also known as Primary Stage Syphilis usually causes a single, small, painless sore. Sometimes it causes swelling in nearby lymph nodes. If you do not treat it, syphilis usually causes a non-itchy skin rash, often on your hands and feet called Secondary Stage Syphilis. Many people do not notice symptoms for years also known as Latent Stage Syphilis. In rare cases, syphilis causes serious health problems and even death also known as Tertiary Syphilis.
- In 2020, there were 107 new cases of Primary and Secondary Syphilis in the Baton Rouge MSA.
- In 2020, there were 77 new early non Primary and Secondary Syphilis diagnoses in the Baton Rouge MSA.
*Baton Rouge MSA includes Ascension, E. Baton Rouge, E. Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, W. Baton Rouge, W. Feliciana parish.
Source: NIH, CDC, 2021 CHNA
To learn more about how to prevent the transmission of STI's visit Louisiana health Hub for some helpful prevention measures.