DeKalb County Health Dept.
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HIV & STD

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Additional Frequently Asked Questions

The following content may not be appropriate for all audiences.

What is an STD?
STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease.  An STD is contracted through sexual contact.  Some STDs are passed by skin-to-skin contact, while others are passed through body fluid exchange. 
For more information (pdf)

I am sexually active.  Should I get tested for STDs if I feel fine and have no symptoms? Many STDs do not have any symptoms.  If you have had sex with someone who could have an STD, it is important to get tested. Many STDs can cause serious complications if untreated.
For more information (pdf)

If there are no symptoms of my STD what is the point of taking medication for it?
If you have been diagnosed with an STD, whether or not you have symptoms, it is important to treat it.  If STDs go untreated, serious complications can occur.

Is there any way to know if my partner has an STD?
If your partner has had sex with someone who may have an STD, your partner may be at risk of getting an STD. The only way your partner can find out if they have an STD is to be tested. Often times STDs have no symptoms. 
For information on where to get tested, see our STD referral list (pdf).

I only have oral sex, can I still get an STD?
Yes. It is possible to become infected with an STD from oral sex. During oral sex, there is skin-to-skin contact and there can be body fluid exchange, so consider using protection such as condoms or dental dams to protect you during oral sex. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you are having oral sex so a proper exam of the throat and mouth can be performed.

Is there a connection between HIV and other STDs?
Yes. If a person has an STD it can make it easier to get HIV.  While your body is fighting off an STD, your immune system is hard at work.  While your immune system is working against an STD, you are more likely to catch HIV if you are exposed to it. An HIV positive person may have serious complications if he/she catches another STD.  For example, an HIV positive person infected with genital herpes may have worse outbreaks than an HIV negative person infected with genital herpes.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the immune system and makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. AIDS is a medical term that means a person’s immune system has been severely weakened by HIV. When a person has AIDS, that person is more at risk for getting other serious, sometimes deadly, infections.

Can a man contract HIV from a woman?
Yes. It is possible to pass HIV from females to males.
For more information, see our HIV transmission section (pdf)

Can mosquitoes or other animals transmit HIV?
No. HIV can only be spread from humans to humans.  For more information, see our HIV transmission section (pdf)

Can HIV live outside the body?
HIV is a fragile virus when outside of the human body. According to the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the risk of infection from HIV outside of the body is almost zero.

Do condoms protect from STDs all of the time?
When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing fluid exchange. Condoms may not protect you from STDs that can be spread from skin-to-skin contact, like herpes or genital warts.

I am on birth control, do I still need to use condoms?
Birth control does not prevent you from getting an STD.

My boyfriend says condoms are uncomfortable to wear. Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves during sex?
Yes. There are several different sizes, shapes and textures of condoms. Females can take action by wearing a female condom, which is put in the vagina before sexual intercourse.

If I douche after unprotected sex am I less likely to get an STD?
No. Douching can actually push bacteria up into the vagina. This can cause irritation of the vagina, such as a bacterial or a yeast infection. It can also push bacteria from other STDs (such as chlamydia or gonorrhea) further into the reproductive tract, causing a serious infection known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
For more information (pdf)

If I have vaginal discharge can I treat it with over the counter products?
If you have unusual vaginal discharge it is important to be examined in order to find the cause.  Vaginal discharge can result from several things, including STDs or vaginitis (irritation of the vagina, such as a yeast infection or bacterial infection). In order to get proper care for unusual discharge, get examined by a health care professional.

Can any STDs be cured?
Yes. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are some of the STDs that can be cured. It is also important to be aware that it is possible to catch these STDs in the future if exposed. Viral STDs, such as Herpes, HIV, and HPV can be treated, but not cured.
For more information (pdf)

Can me and my partner ‘make’ or ‘create’ an STD on our own by having sex? No. The only way to get an STD is by sexual contact with an infected person. Sexual contact between two uninfected people will not ‘make’ or ‘create’ an STD.

I was diagnosed with an STD, my partner told me I must have got it from the toilet seat. Is this possible? No. The only way to contract an STD is sexual contact with an infected person.  Toilet seats, towels, and any other object cannot give you an STD.

I was diagnosed with an STD and took all of my medication for it. Why should I talk with my sex partner(s) about the STD?
If you have been diagnosed with an STD, it is important that your sex partners are aware that they may have been exposed to the STD.  By having sex with a partner that has not been tested/treated, you could be at risk for re-infection. For more information on partner services treatment, contact our Communicable Disease Department at 815-748-2467.

Does the DeKalb County Health Department have STD testing?
Call for information about STD testing at the DeKalb County Health Department.  We have a STD Partner Treatment Program for individuals whose sex partner(s) have been diagnosed with Chlamydia, Gonorrhea or Syphillis.  For more information contact our Communicable Disease Department at 815-748-2467. Referral List (pdf)

Testing for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphillis are available to our Family Planning Clients. If test results are positive, partner treatment services are encouraged through the Family Planning Program.