STDs and AIDS Information for Reproductive Health Clients
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a deadly condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is spread chiefly by sexual intercourse. Thus AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Some other STDs are trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, and genital herpes. Clients need to know how STDs are spread and how to avoid them. Note: Women and men with HIV infection can choose any family planning method so long as no other medical conditions limit their choice.
How HIV and Other STDs Are Spread
Explain these points to clients
* HIV and other STDs are spread by sex with someone who is already infected.
* HIV and some other STDs, such as hepatitis B, are also spread by blood from an infected person entering an uninfected person’s bloodstream or by blood transfusions from an infected person.
* Most people who are infected with HIV or another STD do not look or feel sick. They may not know that they are infected. But they can still spread these diseases.
* Men and women with genital sores or infections are more likely to catch HIV or give it to other people. Other STDs can cause these sores or infections.
* A woman infected with HIV can pass it to her baby before birth or in breast milk.
* Explain the ABCs to all clients.
How to Avoid AIDS and Other STDs–Remember the ABCs
Abstain. The surest way to avoid AIDS is to abstain from sex. If not possible, then…
Be faithful. Have sex only with a partner who is not infected(*) and who also has no other sex partners. If it is not possible to be mutually faithful, then use…
Condoms. Use condoms always. Condoms provide considerable protection against HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
Use condoms to prevent STDs along with other family planning methods for extra pregnancy protection.
* Encourage people to talk with their sex partners about STDs and AIDS and to agree how to protect one another. In particular, women whose sex partners have other partners may need help and practice negotiating about sex and condom use.
* Offer the client condoms. If clients say they do not need condoms, ask them to take the condoms and give them to friends. Often they will use the condoms themselves.
Encourage Prompt Treatment of STDs
Urge clients to seek STD care from a doctor or nurse if they have any of the following:
* A sore or sores on or near the genitals. Sores may be either hard or open; either painful or not painful.
* For men, discharge (“drip”) from the penis, and urinating is painful.
* For women, unusual discharge from the vagina.
* For women, pain in lower abdomen along with sores or discharge: See a doctor or nurse quickly. These may be signs of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
* A sex partner with any of these signs or who might have an STD–even if the client has no signs of disease. Since women with STDs often have no immediate signs, they may need to be tested if they think they face high STD risk.
(*) Note: HIV infection does not cause any of the signs listed above. HIV infection often has no obvious signs for many years.
Some providers can test clients for HIV. Clients need counseling both before and after the test. Providers need special training for this counseling.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Department of Health
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group