News flash! It is healthy and normal to be sexually active. 

And, many sexually active individuals will acquire an STD at some point in their lives. 

Getting a diagnosis of an STD may leave you feeling afraid, worried, angry, or confused. But you can act on this. It starts with taking quick action to deal with your infection. Visiting a sexual health clinic to see HIV and STD professionals would be the first step. They would be able to answer your questions, provide immediate treatment, and educate you on how to cope with your particular situation, as well as how to avoid reinfection in the future for some STDs. 

Many healthcare providers use the term “infection” instead of “disease”, because a person with an infection may have no symptoms but still require treatment. When left untreated, an STI can become a disease.

Having an STD can make it easier to get HIV. For example, an STD can cause a sore or a break in the skin, which can make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Having HIV and another STD may increase the risk of HIV transmission. You may acquire HIV through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk, and vaginal and anal fluids. There is no permanent cure for HIV. However, a person can manage the condition with treatment. This can slow the disease’s progression and prolong a person’s life.

The following information may be useful for you to make some decisions; 

1. If you have the following symptoms, it is vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible.

Signs of acute HIV infection include flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth ulcers. You may experience weight loss, diarrhea or oral thrush (white fungal patches in your mouth), or recurrent vaginal yeast infections, at the later stages of the HIV infection. As HIV slowly dampens your immune system to evolve into AIDS, these symptoms will increase over time.

Some signs of an STD include watery, whitish discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus. You may also experience painful urination or develop little bumps that appear in those same areas or in your mouth. 

2. HIV and STDs can be easily passed from one person to another because most people may be asymptomatic, and do not always know they have them. You can get HIV or an STD from vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and even foreplay. The risks are higher for unprotected sexual acts. Sharing personal items with blood or bodily fluids on them, such as needles or razors, can transmit HIV or an STD. 

3. If you are sexually active, have a new partner, or have more than one partner, it is important to get tested. If you ignore your sexual health, you might develop other health problems later. These can include issues with organs such as the heart, brain, or liver, infertility, cancers of your reproductive organs, and even death. Being diagnosed with an STD also makes it easier for you to become infected with HIV. 

The best way to know if you have HIV or an STD is to go to a doctor and get tested. Testing allows you to know your status, and to start treatments, if necessary. 

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