Syphilis etc. : Swiss AIDS Federation

Syphilis, the clap etc.: The most common STIs

The majority sexually transmitted sexually transmitted infections can be successfully treated, but not all of them are harmless. Condoms, Femidom® and Dental Dams reduce the risk of infection.

What are the most common sexually transmitted infections?

Chlamydia → curable, often cures spontaneously

Gonorrhea (the clap) → curable

Syphilis (lues) → curable, as far as detected early

Hepatitis B → inoculable, not curable, treatable

Herpes genitalis → not curable, treatable

Papillomavirus (HPV) → not curable, treatable.
Immunisation recommended by the Federal Office for Public Health.

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) → curable affects mainly men who have sex with men

How can I protect myself from sexually transmitted infections?

A condom or dental dam (wafer-thin latex sheet used during oral sex) gives reliable protection from HIV and offers good protection against other sexually transmitted infections. But, in spite of using a condom, you could become infected with other sexually transmitted infections because these can be transmitted through skin to skin contact. It is therefore important that you pay attention to any symptoms and go to your doctor straight away if you notice any signs of a sexually transmitted infection. If you have many different sexual partners, it is wise to have yearly check-ups for sexually transmitted infections.

What are the signs of a sexually transmitted infection?

  • Burning and pain on urination
  • Discharge from penis or anus, abnormal discharge from the vagina
  • Itching, pain, skin changes at the entrance to the vagina or the anus
  • Redness, pimples, lumps, blisters, warts, ulcers or sores in the genital area
  • Irregular, or no menstruation, bleeding between cycles
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
  • Pain in the genital area or abdomen
  • Changes, such as open sores in the mouth or throat

What should I do if I think I have a sexually transmitted infection?

If you notice one or more signs, contact a doctor immediately.

Do I have to go to a doctor each time I suspect I have a sexually transmitted infection?

Yes. If sexually transmitted infections are not diagnosed and treated, they can possibly severely damage your health. If you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, you should inform your partner and protect yourselves while having sex by using a condom – otherwise there is the danger of infecting or re-infecting each other again.

How high is the risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted infection?

It depends on the sexual risk situation, the infection and the general health of the affected person. Some of the infections, for example the human papilloma virus HPV, herpes or chlamydia are easily transmitted.

I think I have a sexually transmitted infection. I feel ashamed. What shall I do?

Most sexually active people acquire a sexually transmitted infection once in their lives. Your doctor, whether male or female, is experienced to deal with this. If you do not go to your doctor because you are ashamed, you are endangering not only your health but also that of your partner. It is therefore important that you discuss things with your partner so that he or she can also be treated.

I have a sexually transmitted infection. How shall I tell my partner?

It is important in every relationship to take responsibility. Anyone who has had unprotected occasional sex and has possibly been infected with a sexually transmitted infection should discuss this with their partner, the earlier the better - even if this conversation is difficult and can lead to a crisis in the relationship. If you are unsure, your regional AIDS centre can give you advice.

I had sex with a prostitute, a rent boy. Must I get myself tested?

Prostitutes or rent boys have sex with many men. Correspondingly, after having unprotected sex there is a high risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted infection. Condoms offer reliable protection from HIV and good protection from sexually transmitted infections.
Nevertheless, even protected sex can lead to the transmission of STIs, as these can also be passed on via skin contact. Over the following days you should be aware of any symptoms and make an appointment with your doctor as soon as signs of a sexually transmitted infection are observed or you would like to have some investigations carried out. Sexually transmitted infections are treatable.

I often hear about a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. What does this actually mean?

Sexually transmitted infections increase the risk of HIV transmission. This is due to the fact that ulcers and wounds in the genital area caused by sexually transmitted infections promote the entry of the HI virus in the body during sex. Various sexually transmitted infections are more problematic in HIV positive people and are often more difficult to treat.

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