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HIV & other STIs

Infections and diseases

Some pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) are transmitted from one person to another during sex. They cause what’s referred to as sexually transmitted infections – STIs or STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) for short.

If recognised early, most of these infections are easily treated or even cured. Symptoms such as itching, stinging or discharge in the genital area can be signs of a sexually transmitted infection. The onset of these symptoms makes it important to get a medical exam and treatment as soon as possible.
Persons with an STI can pass it on to other people during sex. Once the doctor diagnoses an STI, it is therefore important to inform one’s partner or partners. As they might be infected, even if they have no symptoms, they should get a medical exam and, if necessary, treatment.

The risk of infection with an STI increases with the number of sexual partners. People with multiple sexual partners (five or more per year) should be tested for sexually transmitted infections once a year, even if they do not have symptoms. Undetected and untreated infections can lead to serious health problems.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is probably the most well-known sexually transmitted pathogen. HIV can be treated but not cured. An HIV infection usually progresses without any specific symptoms; in other words, an infected person may be unaware of their infection. Symptoms of a so-called “primary infection” may appear shortly after the infection has occurred, but because they are similar to flu symptoms (e.g. fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, etc.), they are often not recognised. If these symptoms appear a few days or up to four weeks after a high-risk situation, it is important to immediately notify a specialised counselling centre or see a doctor to get an HIV test.

An HIV infection that remains undetected and untreated for a significant amount of time will develop into AIDS, which is short for “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome”. Left untreated, HIV-caused AIDS is fatal.