In chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, antibiotic medications are used as treatment, and they can confer a full cure. Antibiotics may be given in pill or injectable form or a combination of both. Trichomoniasis is treated with an antiparasitic medication, and treatment can also result in a full cure.
After treatment for a bacterial or parasitic STI, a person can get infected with the same STI again. For this reason, it is essential that people who have been diagnosed with an STI finish the full course of their STI treatment, abstain from sexual activities during that treatment, and inform all partners so that they may also get assessed and treated as well.
When it comes to the treatment of viruses, management varies. The body’s immune system can sometimes clear HPV on its own. If HPV genital warts are present, they can be managed with therapies. Herpes simplex virus infections can be treated with antiviral medications. Still, they cannot be fully cured because HSV lives in the nerve cells forever. HSV can flare from time to time, but recurrences can be managed with antiviral medications.
Numerous medications can keep the virus under control and prevent the development of the more serious condition of AIDS. There are also medications available to reduce the risk of contracting HIV before having sex with an HIV-positive person (mediations known as PrEP) or after a sexual encounter with someone who is HIV-positive (medications known as PEP).
How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections
The most effective way to prevent contracting an STI is to refrain from sexual activity. If you are sexually active, your STI risk can be reduced by ensuring that both parties are monogamous. A lower number of lifetime partners is also protective against STIs.
Condom use can greatly reduce STIs' risk, especially if condoms are used correctly with every sexual encounter. Refraining from substance use during sexual encounters can also reduce the risk of contracting STIs.
Other specific prevention methods are also available for these sexually transmitted viruses:
- HPV: The HPV vaccine is a two-dose series that is available to children starting at age 9. It is recommended that those who may not have received the vaccine as a teenager until age 26. This vaccine can significantly reduce a person’s risk of contracting genital warts and HPV-associated cancers.
- HIV: For people who have a high risk of contracting HIV or who have a sexual partner with known HIV, a medication is known as PrEP (which stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis”) is available to prevent the contraction of this infection. When this medication is taken daily, it can prevent a person from contracting HIV.
Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections
The CDC has published the following screening recommendations to help prevent STIs and identify early infections:
- HIV testing at least once for all adults ages 13–64
- Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea testing for sexually active women younger than 25
- Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea testing for sexually active women older than 25 who have multiple sexual partners or sexual partners with known STDs
- Testing of pregnant women at least once during pregnancy and as needed depending on individual circumstances
- Annual chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis testing of sexually active gay and bisexual men. HIV testing may also be routinely used in these populations.