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AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Untreated STDs Can Put You At Risk For HIV
. https://www.aidshealth.org/

Untreated STDs Can Put You At Risk For HIV

Common sense tells us that having an untreated STD is not good for your health. With painful side effects and the communicability of untreated sexually transmitted diseases, it’s a good idea to test for and treat STDs on a regular basis. But a lesser known effect of untreated STDs is the increased risk of HIV transmission.

STDs can increase this risk in one or two ways, the first being inflammation. When inflammation is triggered, the body recruits more immune cells to combat this response. HIV prefers to infect immune cells. So, any disease that causes an increase in these cells will make it easier for an individual to be infected with HIV. STDs that trigger this response are gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis (a STD caused by parasites).

The second way in which STDs increase the risk of HIV are lesions on the skin. Open sores make it easier for HIV to enter the body and are a common side effect of many STDs. Syphilis, chancroid (which can lead to painful ulcers in the genital region), and herpes can cause these kinds of lesions and increase your risk of being infected.

While this may seem daunting, there are many ways of protecting yourself against STDs and HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body. PrEP is only reliable when taken consistently, however. In addition, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. If you are on PrEP, make sure to use a condom during sexual intercourse. Condoms are still the most effective method to protect yourself against STDs.

Getting tested for STDs and HIV frequently is another great way to ensure your overall health and wellness. STDs can be asymptomatic. Often the only way to get a timely diagnosis, before symptoms develop, is frequent testing.

If you do test positively for either an STD or HIV, timely treatment is paramount to prevent painful and sometimes deadly symptoms. When HIV is properly treated and viral loads become undetectable, HIV is no longer transmissible and can’t spread from one individual to another.

That means that HIV cannot be transmitted when it is properly treated. If everyone who was infected with HIV was in proper treatment, we could end the spread of HIV/AIDS today.

Adopting habits like getting regular STD and HIV tests, using a condom, and taking other preventative medications like PrEP are great ways to protect yourself against HIV.

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