Sexually transmitted diseases caused by viruses

by Peter Sedesse

There are four  sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are caused by viruses.  They are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV),   Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), and Hepatitis C.   An important common feature of all the viruses that cause sexually transmitted diseases is that there is no cure for any of them, but in each case, common STD preventive measures like condom use are highly effective at preventing infection.

1.  HIV is the virus that causes AIDs.  HIV can remain dormant inside the body for months or even years without causing any noticeable symptoms.  This is one of the leading reasons HIV has become the most lethal STD in the world in less than half a century.  Most transmissions of HIV are from people who do not have any symptoms or even realize they are infected.  At some point after infection, the virus begins to destroy CD4 white blood cells which are a vital part of the immune system.  Without medical intervention, death usually occurs as the result of a secondary infection that is lethal because the body is not able to fight back.  Current medications are able to greatly reduce the ability of the virus to reproduce, which slows down the destruction of the immune system.

2.  Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that causes genital warts.  While in most situations, the virus and the warts are harmless to the individual and only cause slight irritation, the virus is also the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.  Women infected with the virus should be sure to have yearly pap exams done.  While there is no treatment for the virus itself, the warts can be removed by means similar to other warts; freezing, laser or through surgery.

3.  Herpes simplex virus is transmitted through sexual activity and results in open sores on the genitals of both men and women.  Herpes can infect the genitals, mouth and anus, and once infected, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells.  When infected, an individual will usually have a rather extreme outbreak approximately two weeks after infection.  The virus then will remain quiet for an unknown amount of time before causing more symptoms.  Antiviral medications are effective at keeping the virus in its dormant state and diminishing the severity of symptoms when an outbreak does occur.  It is important to know that Herpes can be spread to other individuals even if there are no visible sores on the person with the virus.

4.  Hepatitis C is transmitted through sexual activity and causes long term and permanent damage to the liver.  While Hepatitis C is transmitted through the genitals, the major symptoms associated with the virus occur throughout the body as the liver gradually is destroyed.  There is no cure for Hepatitis C and the best treatments only attempt to minimize the rate of destruction of the liver.

As with all sexually transmitted diseases, the most common mode of infection is unprotected sexual activities with a person infected with the virus.  Increased chances for infection occur when the integrity of the skin of the sexual organs is impaired or broken.  The most common cause of this is a sore caused by a different STD, or from traumatic sexual behavior such as anal sex.  While each of the four viral STDs have no current cure, they all have treatments aimed at reducing the severity and frequency of symptoms.

Viruses cause four of the most significant and dangerous forms of sexually transmitted diseases.  Because of the nature of viruses, these STDs cannot be cure, but can be treated which greatly reduces the severity and duration of symptoms.  HIV, Herpes, HPV and Hepatitis C all share similar characteristics and are much more easily transmitted during unprotected sex, especially traumatic sex which results in direct contact with blood.

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Will Savage

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