Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that can be
transferred from one person to another through any type of sexual contact. STDs
are sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since they
involve the transmission of a disease-causing microorganism from one person to
another during sexual activity. It is important to realize that sexual contact
includes more than just sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal). Sexual contact
includes kissing, oral-genital contact, and the use of sexual "toys," such as
vibrators. STDs probably have been around for thousands of years, but the most dangerous of these conditions, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was only recognized in recent decades.
Many STDs are treatable, but effective cures are lacking
for others, such as HIV, HPV, hepatitis B, and
hepatitis C. Even gonorrhea, once easily cured, has become resistant to many of the older traditional antibiotics. Many STDs can be present in, and spread by, people who do not have any symptoms of the condition and have not yet been diagnosed with an STD. Therefore, public awareness and education about these infections and the methods of preventing them is important.
There really is no such thing as "safe" sex. The only truly effective way to prevent STDs is abstinence. Sex in the context of a monogamous relationship wherein neither party is infected with a STD also is considered "safe." Most people think that kissing is
a safe activity. Unfortunately, syphilis, herpes, and other infections can be
contracted through this relatively simple and apparently harmless act. All other forms of sexual contact carry some risk.
Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. Condoms are useful in decreasing the spread of certain infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea; however, they do not fully protect
against other infections such as genital herpes,
genital warts, syphilis, and
HIV. Prevention of the spread of STDs is dependent upon the counseling of
at-risk individuals and the early diagnosis and treatment of infections.
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Genital herpes is a common condition affecting around 45 million people in
the U.S. The herpes viruses responsible for genital herpes are
transmitted through close personal contact such as sexual contact.
The symptoms of genital herpes vary among people. Most people infected with
HSV have no symptoms or have only mild symptoms, but some develop severe
symptoms. When symptoms do occur, the infected person usually develops one or
more painful blisters in the anal or genital areas that eventually ulcerate and
heal over a period of a few weeks.
When a person is first infected with the herpes virus, if symptoms occur,
these usually develop within the first two weeks after infection. These symptoms
of an initial infection can include: