STD Information

Q: What is an STD?

A: An STD is a sexually transmitted disease; an infection that is transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex, intravenous drug use or through nonsexual contact such as childbirth or breastfeeding. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, there are 19 million reported STD cases each year in the United States. STDs are common and it is possible to be infected without being aware because many STDs do not display obvious signs or symptoms. STD testing once or twice every year is recommended. Regular STD testing is a great way to protect your sexual health as well as the health of your partner.

Q: Should I get tested for STDs?

A: Yes. Take charge of your sexual health. Some STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, may not display any symptoms at all, but are still just as contagious. Especially get tested if you experience any of these common STD symptoms: Genital sores, itching, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, or a burning sensation during urination. Some people assume that they are tested for STDs when they have a Pap test or physical, but often this is not the case. There is no comprehensive test for all STDs because each test is specific to an infection. If you have STD symptoms, or have had unprotected sex, it is crucial that you and your partner get tested. By getting an STD test, you can officially put your mind at ease-- After all, the most common STD symptoms is to have no symptoms at all.

Q: How do I know if I have an STD?

A: You can have an STD and not know it due to a lack of symptoms. For instance, you can contract chlamydia or gonorrhea and not have the infection treated due to lack of bumps, rashes or itching. The "silent" nature of STDs helps explain why these infections are so widespread as so many individuals are simply unaware that they have one or more and they spread them unknowingly. Help put an end to the spread of STDs and help protect yourself by learning your status.

Q: Is oral sex safe sex?

A: Simply put, no. You are just as vulnerable to STDs from unprotected oral sex, whether you are the giver or the recipient, as you are with any other unprotected sexual activity. Oral sex may be comparatively less risky than vaginal or anal sex, but it is still advisable to use a latex or polyurethane condom, or dental dam in order to be safer. STDs can be transmitted through mouth sores and/or cuts, and some infections, such as herpes, can be spread via skin-to-skin contact. While condoms are not 100% effective in preventing all STDs, they greatly decrease the risk of transmitting an STD during oral sex.

STD Information - Chlamydia

What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a common STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. According to the CDC, there are approximately 2.86 million chlamydia infections reported annually, making it the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the United States alone. Many individuals are not aware that they have chlamydia because it is considered a "silent" STD, meaning that its symptoms are usually mild or completely absent.

Common signs and symptoms of chlamydia
When chlamydia symptoms do appear, they typically present themselves 1-3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria. For women, symptoms may include an abnormal vaginal discharge or a painful or burning sensation during urination. If the infection spreads, women can experience abdominal and pelvic pain, fever, nausea, bleeding between periods and pain during sex. For men, symptoms may include a painful burning sensation during urination, and/or unusual discharge from the penis. For both men and women, symptoms of rectal infection may include rectal pain or bleeding.

How chlamydia testing works
You can order our chlamydia home test kit that is an antigen test which tests directly for the presence of the chlamydia bacteria (Chlamydia trachomatis) in the human body.

The test is safe: the substances contained in the test device are non-infectious.

Who is at risk for contracting chlamydia?
Chlamydia is contracted via vaginal, anal or oral sex. Sexually active teenage girls and young women are more susceptible to contracting infections, including chlamydia, because their cervixes (opening to the uterus) have not fully matured. Adult men and women who engage in unprotected sex are also prone to the bacteria. A chlamydia infection can also be passed from mother to infant during vaginal childbirth.

Is chlamydia curable?
Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Individuals infected with chlamydia should abstain from sex for 7 days in order to allow the antibiotics to work and to prevent spreading the bacteria to others. Likewise, your partner should as be treated to avoid you getting re-infected. A re-infection of chlamydia is common, particularly when a person's sexual partners have not been properly treated. Our doctors recommend that you and your partner get re-tested for chlamydia approximately 2 weeks after treatment. This helps ensure the health of both parties and helps mitigate any potential long-term health complications from the chlamydia bacterium.

Effects of untreated chlamydia
If left untreated, a chlamydia infection can have major health consequences. Untreated infections in women can lead to chronic pelvic pain and prenatal problems. Repeated chlamydia infections may result in serious reproductive issues, including complications during pregnancy and infertility. In addition, women exposed to chlamydia are at a higher risk for contracting HIV. For men, an untreated case of chlamydia can spread to other parts of the penis, prostate and testicles and cause pain and inflammation. If not properly treated, chlamydia can also result in male sterility.

Ways to prevent chlamydia
The number one way to prevent contracting chlamydia is abstinence. If you are not willing to abstain from sex, you can practice safer sex by consistently using condoms or dental dams. Being in a monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected with chlamydia will also help prevent infection. Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and getting tested with your new partner before engaging in a sexual relationship is another way to help prevent getting chlamydia.

STD Information - Gonorrhea

What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex. Gonorrhea infects the mucous membranes of the reproductive system, including the cervix, Fallopian tubes, and the uterus in women, and the urethra in women and men. It also infects the mucous membranes at the site of contact, including those found in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus. The CDC estimates that there are 820,000 cases in the U.S alone.

How do you contract gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea can be transmitted through any unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Transmission can occur during sexual intercourse even if there is no ejaculation. Gonorrhea can also be spread from a mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth.

Common signs and symptoms of gonorrhea
Gonorrhea does not always show symptoms in men or women. It is possible to be infected and not know it. Gonorrhea symptoms in men include unusual discharge from the penis, itching, and painful urination. Gonorrhea symptoms in women can be mild or absent. If present, symptoms in women include painful urination, fever, unusual vaginal discharge between periods, vomiting and stomach pain.

How to get tested for gonorrhea
By using our test kit that is 99% accurate will be a great place to start. Our test kit is an antigen test, which tests directly for the presence of the gonorrhea bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) in the human body.

The test is safe: the substances contained in the test device are non-infectious.

Effects of untreated gonorrhea
Not getting treated for gonorrhea can result in serious health complications. Untreated gonorrhea makes you susceptible to HIV and other STDs. In men, untreated gonorrhea can result in a painful infection of the testicles, inflammation of the prostate, infertility, and urethral scarring. In women, untreated gonorrhea might result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to dangerous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and infertility.

How to cure gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is an easily curable sexually transmitted disease. Antibiotics are available to treat this bacterial STD. If you test positive for gonorrhea, you must consult with your physician who will then guide you through the necessary steps for treatment and future prevention.

STD Information - Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can range from mild to a serious, lifelong illness. The hepatitis B virus causes inflammation of the liver, which may lead to liver cancer, liver failure and even death. There are two stages to the disease: Acute and chronic.

Acute hepatitis B infection
The early stage (first 6 months) of an hepatitis B infection is called the acute stage and is manageable. Acute hepatitis B can range from mild illness with very few or no symptoms to a serious condition that may require hospitalization. Some people are able to fight the infection and cure the virus during the early stages.

Chronic hepatitis B infection
The later stage of the hepatitis B infection (longer than 6 months) is known as chronic hepatitis B. This chronic stage is more serious and may cause lifelong health problems. Hepatitis B cannot only affect adults, but babies and children as well. Left untreated, hepatitis B infections can lead to serious health problems. Each year, approximately 3,000-5,000 people in the United States die from liver damage or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B. As of 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 800,000 to 1.4 million cases of chronic hepatitis B in the United States.

How is hepatitis B transmitted?
Hepatitis B is most commonly spread through contact with the blood or sexual fluids of an infected person. That is why the hepatitis B virus can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse, or by sharing needles, syringes or other drug-injection equipment. You are also at risk of contracting the virus if you share toiletries such as toothbrushes and razors (since they can come in contact with blood and open sores), or come in contact with open sores or cuts of an infected person. According to the CDC, hepatitis B is not spread through utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
In some cases, people with hepatitis B may be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. However, 70 percent of adults will develop acute hepatitis B-related symptoms.

Symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

On average, hepatitis B symptoms appear 3 months after exposure, but can appear anytime between 6 weeks to 6 months. If present, symptoms may last a few weeks or up to 6 months. Transmission from an infected person to an uninfected person is possible even when symptoms are not present.

How hepatitis B testing works
Testing yourself with our home test kit has 98% accuracy. The test itself is an antigen tests which tests directly for the presence of the Hepatitis B virus in the human body.

The test is safe: the substances contained in the test device are non-infectious.

Effects of untreated hepatitis B
Without treatment or close monitoring, acute hepatitis B could lead to chronic hepatitis B. Untreated chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver failure, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. The best way to know if you have hepatitis B is to get tested. Consider getting tested for hepatitis B as part of your routine STD testing or if you are at risk.

Ways to prevent hepatitis B
The number one way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated for the virus prior to being exposed to it. Abstinence from all sexual activities and intravenous drug use are the only other sure-fire ways to prevent contracting hepatitis B. If you are not willing to abstain from sex, you should practice safer sex by consistently using condoms or dental dams. Being in a monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected with hepatitis B will also prevent infection. Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with your new partner before engaging in sexual relationship is another way to prevent getting Hepatitis B.

STD Information - HIV

What is Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV)?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When HIV attacks the body, it destroys specific immune cells needed to fight off diseases and infections. HIV resembles many other common illnesses, but there is a difference; the body is not able to get rid of HIV once it infects the immune system's CD4+ or T-Cells. HIV can replicate over time --killing the host cells-- if not managed properly. HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but testing positive for HIV does not mean you have AIDS. It is possible to have HIV for many years, even decades, without developing or showing visible signs of the disease. The only way to find out if you have HIV is to get tested. While there is currently no cure for the virus, there are medications that help HIV-positive individuals lead healthier lives. According to the CDC, about 1.2 million Americans live with HIV and approximately 250,000 people are currently undiagnosed and unknowingly living with HIV.

Are HIV and AIDS the same?

No, HIV and AIDS are not the same. HIV can lead to the development of AIDS. AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection when an individual's immune system is severely damaged and lacks the ability to fight off diseases and infections. Many people with HIV benefit from powerful medications used to treat the viral infection. These medications are designed to slow down the destruction of the immune system, improve the health of those with HIV and reduce their ability to transmit the virus to others.

How do I get tested for HIV?

Testing for HIV is simple. FAMKA.com offers a WHO approved HIV home test kit, that is 99.8% accurate. Should you test positive you must consult your physician for further testingļæ½s and confirmations and also to discuss treatments if necessary.

Where to get tested for HIV

You have already taken the first step. By using our Test Kit you will now know if you have a positive or negative result. Should you test positive you must then consult with a physician who will guide you through the next stages of testing and guide you through the treatments available.

Can doctors cure HIV?

At the moment, there is no cure for HIV, however science in the field of HIV is developing every day. Just recently drugs have come on the market that claim they prevent HIV infection. HIV is manageable and treatable, and people live long lives as a result of powerful antiretroviral medications. These medications can slow down the virus and minimize its effects, especially if taken as directed by a doctor or HIV specialist.

Can anyone get HIV?

Anyone can contract HIV. Engaging in unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, having multiple sexual partners, having an active STD, and intravenous drug use are considered high-risk activities for contracting HIV. HIV can also spread from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug equipment can also put you at risk of contracting HIV. Despite misconceptions, saliva, tears, sweat, urine and fecal matter cannot transmit HIV.

Effects of untreated HIV

Undiagnosed and untreated HIV infections can potentially lead to death. If untreated, HIV can severely damage the immune system and make it nearly impossible for the body to fight other illnesses and infections, resulting in AIDS. People with compromised immune systems as a result of AIDS are vulnerable to other so-called "opportunistic" diseases, including cancers and various infections. The transition period from HIV to AIDS is different for each person, but when the immune system is compromised and worn down, it cannot fight off common infections and diseases. Pregnant women who do not get tested for HIV and treated have an increased chance of transmitting the virus to their unborn children.

Ways to prevent HIV infection

The surest way avoid HIV infection is abstinence and to not use intravenous drugs. If you are not willing to abstain from sex, you can help prevent HIV by using condoms during sex. Being in a monogamous relationship. Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and getting tested with a new partner before engaging in a sexual relationship is another way to help prevent contracting HIV.

STD Information - Syphillis

What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Syphilis can be contracted during oral, vaginal and anal sex and occurs in stages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 55,000 new syphilis infections are contracted annually. Of these new cases, nearly 13,000 are of primary and secondary syphilis, which are the earliest and most infectious stages of the disease. Syphilis is curable in its earlier stages, but can cause very serious and possibly irreversible complications if the infection goes untreated. People who have syphilis may not be aware they have it because many of its symptoms are indistinguishable from other diseases. For this reason, syphilis is often referred to as "the great imitator."

Common signs and symptoms of syphilis
Syphilis is transmitted sexually, through direct contact with a syphilis sore, rash, or mucous membrane during unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Sores, or chancres (pronounced SHANG-ker), occur on the lips and mouth, vagina, penis, anus, and/or rectum. Primary syphilis chancres most frequently appear on the genitals, but can also occur on the fingers, mouth, lips, tongue, tonsils, anus and breasts and nipples. Syphilis symptoms can either go unnoticed or be misdiagnosed as the flu for many years. There are three stages to the syphilis infection: Primary, secondary and latent/late. If left untreated during these stages, syphilis becomes deadly.

Syphilis stages:
The primary stage is the first stage of syphilis and usually includes small painless sores known as chancres. These sores occur from about 2 weeks to 3 months after exposure. This makes it possible to have syphilis without being aware of the infection. If a patient has been infected for a year or less, the disease is referred to as an "early case." Early case syphilis infections are more infectious and easier to spread. That being said, any stage of a syphilis infection makes it easier to transmit or contract HIV. Syphilis-related vision loss and irreversible damage to the brain and other organs can occur in as little as one year.

The secondary stage of syphilis lasts between one and three months and usually begins between six weeks and six months after exposure to the bacteria. Secondary syphilis is characterized by a flat rosy-colored, non- itchy rash that usually covers the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. In some cases, the rashes may occur on other parts of the body or resemble rashes caused by other ailments. Additional signs of secondary syphilis include hair loss, white patches inside the mouth, genital warts, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph glands that last for weeks or even months. Secondary stage symptoms include fever, fatigue, headaches, sore throat, weight loss, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands and patchy hair loss. Although symptoms disappear after the primary and secondary stages, the latent (hidden) and late stages are more severe.

Without treatment during the primary or secondary stages, syphilis progresses to the latent stage, at which time the infection becomes dormant and does not cause symptoms for an extended period of time, up to 20 years. During the latent stage, the infection is still detectable by blood testing, despite the lack of symptoms. A syphilis infection can be treated and cured at this stage, but any damage done to internal organs is irreversible. If the syphilis infection progresses through the latent stage without treatment, it enters the terminal tertiary stage.

The tertiary stage of syphilis typically occurs between 10 and 30 years after the initial infection. At this time, entirely new and life-threatening symptoms occur. Debilitating side-effects include, but are not limited to blindness, loss of motor skills, dementia, and damage to the central nervous system and internal organs, such as the heart, brain, eyes, kidneys, and bones. In most cases, tertiary stage syphilis is distinguished by a descent into mental illness, followed by death.

How syphilis is transmitted
The most common way syphilis is transmitted is through contact with sores of an infected person. This usually occurs during sexual intercourse syphilis sores occur on the external genitals, vagina, anus or in the rectum, and the infection is typically transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex. These sores may also occur on the lips and in the mouth. In addition, pregnant women can also transmit the syphilis infection to their unborn children.

How syphilis testing works
An indirect test for the Treponema Pallidum (TP) bacterium that causes Syphilis, giving results in as fast as 15 minutes. This is an antibody test, which tests for the presence of antibodies in the human body that are produced in response to the TP bacterium.

The test is safe and the antigens contained in the test device which are used to detect the TP antibodies are non-infectious.

Where to get tested for syphilis
A great start is by using our test kit available through our website that is 99% accurate. Remember, if testing positive you must consult a physician for further testing and clarification.

Can doctors cure syphilis?
Syphilis can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics when caught early on. In the early stages of syphilis infection, a single dose of penicillin is effective. Treatment will kill the Treponema pallidum bacterium and prevent further damage, but it cannot reverse any damage that has already been done. This is why treating the disease during its primary and secondary stages is so important. If you are being treated for syphilis, abstain from sexual activity until the syphilis sores are completely healed and treatment is finished. Partners should get syphilis treatment together in order to avoid becoming reinfected with the bacteria. Our doctors also recommend follow-up testing to be sure that all of the bacteria that causes syphilis has been cleared from your system.

Effects of untreated syphilis
In the latent or late stages, the effects of syphilis infection can be severe. If left untreated, syphilis can result in damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints. Also, according to the CDC, a person with syphilis sores is 2 to 5 times more likely to acquire HIV. Pregnant women with syphilis may miscarry or transmit the infection to their babies.

Ways to prevent syphilis
The only way to prevent contracting syphilis 100% is abstinence. Otherwise, practicing safer sex by consistently using latex or polyurethane condoms or dental dams can help avoid contracting syphilis. Condoms lower the risk for spreading syphilis, which is particularly high among men who have sex with men, but do not eliminate the risk of contracting the infection from sores on areas of the body that a condom doesn't cover. Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected with syphilis will also prevent infection. Discussing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and testing with your new partner before engaging in sexual relationship is another way to help prevent getting syphilis.

Syphilis and pregnancy
Syphilis is very harmful to infants and unborn babies. It can cause a mother to miscarry or the baby to be stillborn. Syphilis can easily be transmitted to a fetus from the placenta or transfer to the baby in the birth canal during delivery. It can cause serious or even fatal infections. Infants with congenital syphilis are often born prematurely and if left untreated, syphilitic babies will likely develop serious issues in internal organs like the heart, brain, skin, eyes, ears, bones and teeth. Syphilis can be treated during pregnancy with antibiotics to both decrease the risk of spreading it to the baby and stop the infection's progression in the mother.

If a chancre is present on the breast or nipple, mothers should not breastfeed.