Debunking Myths

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that one of the most persistent myths surrounding sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) is that if someone has no symptoms, he doesn't have an STD. Yet, there is little truth to this idea. Arm yourself against STD's by gathering facts instead of buying the myths. Here are four of the most common myths surrounding STD's:

Not Visible

*There are always signs or symptoms accompanying an STD. Wrong. It would be the unusual case of STD infection that could be diagnosed just by looking at someone's genitals. Even most genital warts are not visible to the naked eye. Because people assume that the warts are only contagious when visible, there is every chance they can pass them on to others.

Genital warts are brought on by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The warts are rough-looking growths that resemble warts. There may be one, or the warts may arrive in clusters. Sometimes they appear in the throat or mouth.

Safe Sex

Genital warts are quite contagious and experts recommend that people practice safe sex or receive the HPV vaccine in order to avoid getting the disease.

*It is only possible to catch herpes from your partner during an outbreak. Wrong. One of the most common symptoms of genital herpes, an STD brought on by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), is a breakout of sores resembling blisters that appear on the genitals. The sores are contagious. But it's possible for someone to become infected with genital herpes even when there is no breakout. Also, lots of people have sores that go unnoticed.

If a pregnant woman develops HSV, the baby can become sick as he passes through the birth canal. The baby can develop herpetic viremia (herpes in the bloodstream) or herpetic meningitis, along with chronic skin infection. There is no cure for genital herpes, only palliative oral and topical treatments. To prevent spreading genital herpes, one should use condoms and avoid sharing towels.

*There are tests for every kind of STD. Wrong. The testing that is available is quite limited and some STD's have yet to have a standard diagnostic test.

There's no test for HPV in men, for instance, and there's no test for mycoplasma genitalium, which causes symptoms resembling chlamydia. Chlamydia is among the most common of all STD's. Most of the time, it is treated with antibiotics, but see a physician before embarking on a course of medication.

*It's possible to catch HIV from casual contact. Wrong. People still fear catching HIV from hugging, kissing, and shaking hands.  The only way to catch HIV is through the exchange of body fluids like coming into contact with blood during sex or through the use of needles (blood transfusions, tattoos).

HIV can cause a condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and AIDS can cause the immune system to fail. That means that a person with AIDS can die from a disease that is harmless to a healthy person. While there is as yet no cure for AIDS, treatments exist to improve a patient's quality of life.