Recently, health departments all over the country have been reporting a significant increase in the number of syphilis cases. In some areas, HIV infection has also increased. Some people are being diagnosed with both syphilis and HIV infections at the same time. This is known as co-infection and it can be severe to your health..
Syphilis is a bacterial STD that can cause long-term complications and possible death if not treated correctly. Symptoms in adults are divided into stages. These stages are primary, secondary, tertiary syphilis. It is spread through contact with a syphilitic sore during anal, oral, or vaginal sex. It can even be spread from an infected mother to her unborn child, known as congenital syphilis.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV can increase the risk of contracting other STDs like syphilis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if you have HIV and another STD you are three times more likely than other HIV positive people to spread the virus through sexual contact.
Certain people are at a higher risk for both syphilis and HIV. According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk for these infections. They are also at the greatest risk for co-infection. Additionally, men in the African-American and Latin-American communities have more incidents of these infections reported to health departments.
There are many ways to protect yourself from the spread of STDs and HIV. The CDC recommends the use of latex condoms when engaging in sexual activity. All sexually active people between the ages of 13 and 64 are recommended to get tested for STDs and HIV at least once in their lifetime. Groups that are at higher risk should get tested more often.
There are many affordable and convenient options in your area for STD and HIV testing. If you believe that you may have been exposed to an STD, or if you are curious about the current state of your sexual health, you should consider a full STD testing panel. You can sign up for testing and go into the lab on the same day. Once you have received your results, you should speak with a doctor about the next steps.