Terms You Should Know About STDs

a couple embracing

STD Name

What is it?


How is it spread?



Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Often no symptoms with early HIV infection.

Exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person, namely:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluids

Happens through:

  • sex
  • sharing needles
  • Infected woman passes virus to child before or during birth, or through breast milk.

No known cure


Highly contagious STD caused by bacteria called Haemophilus Ducreyi (or H. Ducreyi).

  • Genital ulcers or sores
  • Swollen, painful lymph glands in groin area
  • Sexual transmission through skin-to-skin contact with an open sore
  • Non-sexual transmission when contact is made with pus-like fluid from an ulcer.



Bacterial infection, can scar fallopian tubes & cause infertility.

  • Discharge from penis or vagina
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain in abdominal area
  • Often no signs
  • Sexual contact (vaginal, anal, oral) with an infected partner.


Crabs (Pubic Lice)

Parasites or bugs that live in pubic hair.

  • Intense itching in genital area
  • Visual evidence of crabs
  • Close personal contact with someone who has crabs
  • Sharing of personal items infested with crabs or crab eggs.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication.

Genital Warts/Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Virus that affects the skin in the genital area and female's cervix.

  • Small, bumpy growths on, in, or around sex organs or anus
  • Sometimes cannot be seen at all.
  • Skin to skin sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a person who has genital warts.

No known cure, only preventive treatment.


Bacterial infection of the penis, vagina or anus.

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Sometime no signs.

Sexual contact (oral, anal, vaginal) with an infected person.


Hepatitis B

A disease that affects the liver.

  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite/weight
  • Aching muscles/joints
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark colored urine
  • One or more symptoms or none at all.
  • Contact with blood, semen or vaginal fluids of infected person
  • Needle sharing
  • During birth

No known cure


Recurrent skin condition that can cause skin irritations in the genital region (anus, vagina, penis).

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Small red bumps that then turn into fluid-filled blisters
  • Blisters dry and heal within one to three weeks
  • Herpes remains even after blisters heal
  • Blisters may return
  • Sometimes there are no symptoms.
  • Sexual contact (oral, anal, vaginal) with infected person
  • Kissing or touching body parts that are infected
  • Herpes can be spread after blisters are healed

No known cure.

Molloscum Contagiosum

Skin disease caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) usually causing one or more small lesions/bumps.

Lesions present on:

  • thighs
  • buttocks
  • groin
  • lower abdomen
  • external genital area
  • anal region
  • Sexual contact
  • Contact with objects that come in touch with lesions (i.e. towels and clothing)

Lesions can be surgicallyremoved and/or treated with a chemical agent

Non Gonococcal Urethritis(NGU)

Infection of the urethra caused by pathogens including: clamydia trachomatis and herpes simplex virus.

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Tenderness
  • Underwear stain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Sex (vaginal, anal or oral) involving direct mucous membrane contact with infected person


PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)

Serious infection in upper genital tract/reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries) of a female. PID can be sexually transmitted or naturally occurring.

  • Dull pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Increased or changed vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • No symptoms or symptoms too mild to notice

Most common causes of PID are two STDs:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial agents to treat gonorrhea, Chlamydia, streptococci and other bacteria


Curable skin disease caused by the parasite, Sarcoptes scabiei.

  • Itching within four to six weeks after infection.

Direct contact with:

  • Infested people
  • Bed linens
  • Clothing
  • Furniture

Latex condoms not considered effective against scabies transmission.

Single topical insecticide treatment


Bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body and affect the heart, brain, nerves.

  • 1st stage: sore appears at site of infection
  • 2nd stage: after sore heals, skin rash and flu-like symptoms appear.
  • Symptoms will go away, but disease remains
  • Sexual contact (vaginal, anal, oral) with infected person

Antibiotic medication. If left untreated syphilis can lead to very severe health problems and even death.

Vaginitis/ Trichomoniasis

Swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina caused by several different germs.

  • Strong fishy smell, especially after sex
  • White, grey or thick, “cottage cheese” discharge
  • pain, itching, burning, or redness around the vagina
  • Smell like baking bread
  • Pain during sex and/or when urinating
  • Sexual contact (vaginal, anal, oral) with infected person

Antibiotics or antifungals, depending on which germ is causing the infection