Here you will find general information about STDs
including testing and treatment options. For
disease specific information, please go to our
For You section.
An STD is a disease/infection you can get or
give to someone else by having oral, vaginal or anal
sex; foreplay; or sharing personal items with blood
on them, such as needles, razors, and toothbrushes.
It is possible to have an STD but not have any symptoms.
Having symptoms is a good thing because they let you
know that something is wrong. If you notice anything different than what is normal for you in your genital area, it is very important to go to a doctor
as soon as possible. When they do occur, typical
STD symptoms for women may include unusual vaginal
discharge (flow), sores, bumps, burning when
urinating, and redness or itching around the vaginal
area. Typical symptoms for men may include discharge
from the penis, burning when urinating, and sores,
bumps, or redness on or around the penis.
If you are sexually active, have a new partner, or more than one partner, it is important to get tested. If you ignore an STD, you might develop other health problems later. These problems can include heart, brain, or liver damage; infertility; cancers in your reproductive organs; and even death.
Having an STD also makes it easier for you to become
infected with HIV.
The best way to know if you have an STD is to go to a doctor and get tested. If you live in Los Angeles County and are at least 12 years old or older, you can call the STD Hotline
at (800) 758-0880 to find out where you can get tested and treated for free. The hotline can also help you with
telling your partner(s). For more information on free testing locations near you, see our
Bacterial STDs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and
Syphilis, can be easily treated and cured. Viral
STDs like Herpes, genital warts, and HIV are
incurable, but there are treatments available to
lessen the severity of the disease. Vaccines are
available to prevent the onset of certain STDs such
as Hepatitis B and HPV. For vaccines to be
effective, a person has to be vaccinated before they
are exposed to the infection. For this reason, it is
recommended that most people get vaccinated against
these infections at an early age.
If you think you have an STD, see a health care
provider immediately. Seeking treatment early will
help to minimize the long-term effects of most STDs.
For Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections, avoid sexual
contact until you are cured. Make sure your
partner(s) get tested and treated too. Otherwise,
you can get re-infected. Some clinics can give you
medication to take home to your partner(s). Viral
STDs such as Herpes and genital warts are not curable
but medications are available for their treatment
and management. For STD clinic locations in Los
Angeles County, call the Los Angeles STD Hotline at
(800) 758-0880 or visit our STD
clinics section. For all other areas, contact
your local or state health department for a clinic
near you. Most STD clinics provide services for free
or at low cost.
The best way to prevent STDs is by not having sex
(abstinence) or waiting to have sex. If you have sex, use a latex
condom correctly each time. You can also use other barriers like polyurethane (plastic) condoms, female condoms, or dental dams. Birth control methods like the pill, depo provera, or diaphragms DO NOT protect against STDs.
Talk to your partner(s)
about safer sex before having sex. Try to select a setting that is neutral and non-sexual. Discuss your sexual histories including past sex partners and STDs.
Before you have sex, check yourself and your partner for any signs of STDs, such as discharge, sores, or bumps in the genital areas. If you notice any signs, do not have sex. Go to a doctor or a clinic to get tested.
Keep in mind, however, the many STDs do not show any
signs or symptoms.
Limit your number of sex partners. The more people you have sex with, the greater your chances of getting an STD. A monogamous relationship — where you and your partner only have sex with each another — is safest.
Go to a clinic for an STD
checkup every six months if you change partners, have
more than one partner, or if you think your partner may
be having sex with anyone else.
Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available for
HPV, hepatitis A and B. Talk to your doctor or go to a
clinic to find out if these vaccines are suitable for
you. For more information on where to get Hepatitis
vaccine in L.A. County, click here.
If you have an STD, make sure both you and your partner(s) get treated.
Do not have sex again until both you and your partner(s) complete treatment.
Do not share needles for tattooing, body
piercing, and injecting drugs/hormones. If you do
share, see below for how to clean them properly. Ask your sex partner(s) about any past needle use.
How to clean your Needles and syringes
Step 2: 100% Bleach -- Do
Step 2 three times.
Fill syringe to the top with clean, 100% bleach.
Shake the syringe. Leave the bleach in for at least 30 seconds.
Squirt out. Repeat.
Water -- Do Step 3 three times.
Fill syringe to the top with clean water.
Shake the syringe.
Squirt out. Repeat.
If you are pregnant, seek pre-natal care early. Early detection and treatment of STDs is important to prevent transmission or development of complications
in your baby.