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Could You Have an STD — And Not Know It?

WebMD can help you know what to watch for

HPV and genital warts continued...

Many sexually transmitted HPV infections resolve on their own. Some women never even know they have been infected. Other infections can cause lingering problems with warts or cancer. If your infection causes genital warts, they can be treated by various methods, including chemical freezing or burning. Because treatment does not kill the virus - it just removes the warts - the growths can return. For HPV-related cancers, treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are available.

Consequences if left untreated: For some strains of the virus, there are no major health consequences. For those linked to cervical cancer, there is an increased risk of developing this disease.

Trichomoniasis

Also called "trich," trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that can be passed during sexual contact. Other modes of transmission are also possible.

Symptoms: Symptoms of trichomoniasis include strong-smelling yellow, green, or gray vaginal discharge, discomfort while urinating, pain during intercourse, and an itchy, irritated genital area.

Symptoms vs. exposure time: Symptoms usually appear 5 to 28 days after exposure.

Transmission: The parasite that causes trichomoniasis is usually passed sexually, either from penis to vagina or from vulva to vulva. Trichomoniasis can also be contracted by genital contact with damp or moist objects like towels, wet clothing, or toilet seats. The trichomoniasis parasite can live outside the body for up to 45 minutes.

Treatment: Trichomoniasis is treated with prescription drugs, usually metronidazole (also called Flagyl) or tinidazole, or topical medicines.

Consequences if left untreated: Trichomoniasis increases your chance of getting HIV. Babies born to mothers with trichomoniasis may be born early or weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth.

HIV/AIDS

Between 1999 and 2003, the estimated number of AIDS cases increased 15 percent among women and only 1 percent among men, according to a report from the CDC. In 2006, a quarter of persons infected with HIV were women. About 21% of people infected with HIV in the US have not been diagnosed.

Symptoms : Many people will not have symptoms for many years. Symptoms may include extreme tiredness; rapid weight loss; fevers and night sweats; long-lasting infections; diarrhea; swollen glands; coughing; oral and vaginal yeast infections; pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); menstrual cycle changes; red, brown, or purplish blotches on the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids.

Symptoms vs. exposure time: Symptoms may stay dormant for 10 years or more.

Transmission: HIV/AIDS is transmitted through sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal), receiving a blood transfusion with infected blood, or sharing needles with an HIV-infected person. Women can also pass on HIV to their children during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

Treatment: There is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medicines that can slow the disease's progress.

Consequences if left untreated: HIV can weaken the immune system, making one more vulnerable to infections. HIV disease can progress to AIDS, which can be fatal.

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Reviewed on June 12, 2009

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