GLBT Social Group for Pueblo Co"

Run by Andrew Baca

Some info you may just need

 
Referrals
HIV Center 543-8718
Hepatitis & STD Test 578-3160
Mental Health 545-2746
Substance Abuse 545-1181 EXT 164
 

Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and one of the most serious. It can spread silently in men and women and cause infertility. There often aren't any symptoms.

Signs and symptoms
The majority of women who are infected with chlamydia will have no symptoms but some may notice:

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Increased vaginal discharge

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Frequent or painful urination

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Pain during sex

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Irregular periods

Men are more likely to notice symptoms, but some may have no symptoms. They may experience:

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Discharge from the penis

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Pain/burning on urination

Sometimes the eyes can become infected with chlamydia and both men and women may experience painful swelling and irritation.

Transmission
Chlamydia can be transmitted in the following ways:

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Penetrative sex (where the penis enters the vagina or anus)

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Oral sex (from mouth to the genitals)

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Mother to baby during birth

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Occasionally by transferring the infection on fingers from the genitals to the eyes.

Diagnosis and treatment
Samples will be taken from any place which may be infected such as the vagina and cervix in women, or the urethra in men, and sent to a laboratory for testing. Increasingly, chlamydia tests are being taken using a urine sample. The results are usually available within a week. If the test is positive, the treatment for chlamydia is a simple course of antibiotics.

You should avoid penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina, anus or mouth) until you have returned to the clinic and been given the all-clear by the doctor.

Long-term effects
In women, if left untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, fertility problems, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain.


 

 
Genital herpes causes painful sores on and around the genitals. It is spread by direct contact with sores during sex, but can also be passed when no sores are present. There is no known cure.
Signs and symptoms
Both men and women may have one or more symptoms including:
- Itching or tingling sensation in the genital or anal area
- Small fluid-filled blisters. These burst and leave small sores which can be very painful. In time they dry out, scab over and heal. With the first infection they can take between 2 and 4 weeks to heal properly
- Pain when passing urine, if it passes over any of the open sores
- A flu-like illness, backache, headache, swollen glands or fever

At this time the virus is highly infectious.

Recurrent infections are usually milder. The sores are fewer, smaller, less painful and heal more quickly.

Transmission
Herpes is passed on through direct contact with an infected person. The virus affects the areas where it enters the body. This can be by:

- Kissing (mouth to mouth)
- Penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina or anus)
- Oral sex (from mouth to the genitals)
Diagnosis and Treatment
At your sexual health (GUM) clinic a diagnosis will be carried out based on:
- A clinical examination of your genital area carried out by a doctor or a nurse
- A sample will be taken, using a cotton-wool or spongy swab, from any visible sores
- Women may be given an internal pelvic examination
- A sample of urine is taken
Samples are sent to a laboratory for testing and the results should be available within two weeks.

If you are told that you have herpes you may be offered tablets to reduce the severity of the infection but these are only effective when taken within 72 hours of the start of the symptoms.

There is also a cream that controls the symptoms. Recurrent infections may not need treatment.

You will usually be asked to see a health adviser who will explain about the infection and what you can do to help you feel better and how to avoid passing the virus on to others.

Taking care of yourself and your partner
During an episode of herpes, the blisters and sores are highly infectious and the virus can be passed on to others by direct contact. To prevent this from happening you should avoid:
- kissing when you or your partner have cold sores around the mouth
- having oral sex when you or your partner have mouth or genital sores
- having any genital or anal contact, even with a condom, when you or your partner have genital sores
- sharing towels and face flannels
- using saliva to wet contact lenses if you have sores around your mouth
If you find that you are having frequent continuing episodes of herpes, it may be useful to go to your local sexually health (GUM) clinic to discuss possible treatments for this.

Long term effects
Having herpes does not affect a woman's ability to become pregnant but if herpes occurs in the first three months of pregnancy there is a small risk of miscarriage.

Catching herpes towards the end of pregnancy may cause the baby to be born early and may mean that it is necessary to have a Caesarean section at the end of the pregnancy. However, most women with genital herpes have an entirely normal pregnancy and a normal delivery

Genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections.

Signs and symptoms
- You or your partner may notice pinkish/white small lumps or larger cauliflower-shaped lumps on the genital area
- Warts can appear on the vulva, penis, scrotum or anus, in the vagina and on the cervix
- It usually takes 1-3 months from infection for warts to appear, but can take much longer
- They may itch but are usually painless
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Not everyone who comes into contact with the virus will develop warts.

Transmission
Warts are spread through skin-to-skin contact. If you have sex or genital contact with someone who has genital warts you may develop them too.

They can be passed on during vaginal or anal sex.

Diagnosis and treatment
A doctor or nurse can usually tell whether you have genital warts just by looking.

A test may be performed by applying a weak vinegar-like solution to the outside of the genital area. This turns any warts white. An internal examination may be carried out to check for warts in the vagina or anus.

Commonly a clinic will prescribe an anti-wart liquid or cream such as Podophyllotoxin, which can be used at home. Another common treatment is freezing or laser treatment.

Treatment may be uncomfortable but should not be painful. Never try to treat genital warts by yourself - always seek medical advice.

You can take care of yourself and your partner if you:
- Keep the genital area clean and dry
- Don't use scented soaps, bath oils or vaginal deodorants
- Use condoms when having sex - these will protect against warts only if they cover the affected area
- Make sure your partner has a check up too.
You should get individual advice about having sex during treatment from your doctor, nurse or health adviser. It is important to return regularly for treatment until the warts have gone. This can sometimes take a long time.

Long-term effects
Most people will have recurrence of warts which will need further treatment.

Some types of wart virus may be linked to changes in cervical cells, which can lead to cancer. However, the types of wart virus which cause visible warts are only rarely the types associated with cervical cancer. Women who have genital warts should, like all women over the age of 20, have regular cervical smear tests.

It is important that all women over 20 years of age have a regular cervical smear test every 3-5 years.

 

Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), also known as 'the clap'. If not treated early, it can cause serious health problems.
Signs and symptoms
It is possible to be infected with gonorrhoea and have no symptoms. Men are far more likely to notice symptoms than women.

Women - symptoms can include:
- A change in vaginal discharge. This may increase, change to a yellow or greenish colour and develop a strong smell
- A pain or burning sensation when passing urine
- Irritation and/or discharge from the anus.
Men - symptoms may include:
- A yellow or white discharge from the penis
- Irritation and/or discharge from the anus
- Inflammation of the testicles and prostate gland.
Transmission
Gonorrhoea is passed on:
- By penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina or anus)
- Oral sex (from mouth to the genitals).
And less often by:
- Rimming (where a person uses their mouth and tongue to stimulate another person's anus)
- Inserting your fingers into an infected vagina, anus or mouth and then putting them into your own without washing your hands in between
- Sharing vibrators or other sex toys.
Diagnosis and treatment
You can be tested for gonorrhoea and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at your local sexual health (GUM) clinic. The diagnosis will be made following examination including:
- A doctor or a nurse carries out an examination of your genital area
- Samples are taken, using a cotton-wool or spongy swab, from any places which may be infected - the cervix, urethra, anus or throat
- Women are given an internal pelvic examination
- A sample of urine may be taken.
Samples taken are looked at under a microscope and it may be possible to make a diagnosis immediately. A second sample is sent to a laboratory for diagnosis or confirmation and results should be available within a week.

If the tests are positive, treatment is easy but essential. You will be given an antibiotic in tablet, liquid or injection form.

You should not have penetrative sex (where the penis enters the vagina or anus), or oral sex (from mouth to the genitals), until you have returned to the clinic and been given the all clear by the doctor.

Long-term effects
If left untreated gonorrhoea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women. This can cause fever, pain and can lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy (where the baby begins to grow in the fallopian tubes, not the womb).

A woman can pass it on to her baby if she is infected when the baby is born.


Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. This can be caused by alcohol and some drugs, but usually it is the result of a viral infection. There are several viruses which can cause hepatitis.

These viruses are identified by letters of the alphabet e.g. hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, etc.

How Hepatitis A is passed on
Hepatitis A (HAV) is a common infection in many parts of the world but only about 1300 cases were reported in England in 1997, although actual cases could be higher.
- It is possible to become infected through eating or drinking contaminated food or water
- The virus is found in faeces and can be passed on if even a tiny amount of virus comes into contact with a person's mouth
- This means that the virus can also be passed on sexually
- It is very important to wash your hands carefully after going to the toilet and before eating.
Signs and symptoms
People may have no symptoms but can still be infectious. Symptoms may include:
- A short, flu-like illness
- Fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Jaundice
- Itchy skin.

If you think you may have been at risk then you should go to your GP, local NHS sexual health (GUM) clinic or a hospital Accident and Emergency department.

Diagnosis and treatment
Hepatitis A can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. You may have evidence of past infection which means you have been in contact with hepatitis A but your body has cleared it.

This may mean that you are protected from future infection with hepatitis A.

Although people are most infectious before symptoms occur, they may remain infectious for a few days after symptoms appear. Infection is usually mild but some people may need to be admitted to hospital.

Immunisation
A single injection of hepatitis A vaccine in the arm will give you protection for one year.

A second booster injection at 6-12 months gives protection for up to 10 years.

It is very important to be immunised if you are travelling to parts of the world with high rates of hepatitis A.

People who have been in recent contact with someone with hepatitis A may also be offered immunoglobulin to help try to prevent infection.


Hepatitis B (HBV) is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It's much easier to get than HIV, and can cause permanent liver disease and cancer. Most people have no obvious symptoms, and there is no known cure.
How hepatitis B is passed on
The hepatitis B virus is very common world-wide. It is very infectious and can be passed on in a number of ways:
- By unprotected penetrative sex (where the penis enters the vagina or anus) or sex which draws blood
- By oral sex (from mouth to the genitals)
- By sharing needles or other drug injecting equipment contaminated with blood
- By using equipment for tattooing, acupuncture or body-piercing contaminated with blood
- From an infected mother to her baby
- Through a blood transfusion in a country where blood is not tested - all blood for transfusion is tested in the UK
Signs and symptoms
Some people may have no symptoms at all but can still pass on the virus. Symptoms may include:
- A short, flu-like illness
- Fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Jaundice
- Itchy skin
Diagnosis and treatment
Hepatitis B can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. You may have evidence of past infection which means you have been in contact with hepatitis B but your body has cleared it.

You may now have natural protection against hepatitis B.
- If your blood test indicates that you carry HBV, this means that you can pass it on to others. You are also at risk of chronic liver disease and may be referred to a specialist for further assessment
- If you are diagnosed as having an active infection, you will be advised to have regular blood tests and physical check-ups. Many people do not require treatment as inflammation of the liver may not be severe
- If you do need treatment you may be offered interferon injections or antiviral tablets which can reduce hepatitis B damage
- If you are infected with HBV you should limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- If you have HBV you should use a condom for penetrative sex and your partner should be immunised
- You should avoid sharing toothbrushes or shaving equipment as HBV can be passed on in this way
Immunisation
The vaccination is available from sexual health (GUM) clinics and GPs and is available particularly for people who are at perceived high risk for acquisition by Hepatitis B.

Three injections of hepatitis B vaccine are given over a period of 3-6 months. A blood test is then taken to check the immunisations have worked.

You should then be immune for at least 5 years. It is important that babies of HBV positive mothers are immunised at birth to prevent them becoming infected.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. This can be caused by alcohol and some drugs, but usually it is the result of a viral infection. There are several viruses which can cause hepatitis.

These viruses are identified by letters of the alphabet e.g. hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, etc.


How hepatitis C (HCV) is passed on
The hepatitis C virus can be spread in the following ways:
- By sharing contaminated needles or other equipment for injecting drugs
- By using unsterilised equipment for tattooing, acupuncture or body piercing
- By unprotected penetrative sex (where the penis enters the vagina or anus) or sex which draws blood - this is relatively rare but possible
- By unprotected oral sex (from mouth to the genitals)
- Between 1-5% of infected mothers may pass it on to their child during pregnancy or at birth
- Through blood transfusion in a country where blood is not tested for HCV - all blood for transfusion in the UK is tested.
Signs and symptoms
People may have no symptoms at all but can still pass on the virus to others. Symptoms may include:
- A short, flu-like illness
- Fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Jaundice in a small number of cases
- Itchy skin.
Diagnosis and treatment
Exposure to hepatitis C is diagnosed by a blood test. Blood samples can be taken to look at the strain of hepatitis C which someone has, because treatment is more effective for some strains than for others.

The first blood test will show whether an individual has ever been exposed to HCV and a further blood test is necessary to establish whether they remain infected with the virus. Current evidence suggests that only about 20% of those infected with HCV appear to clear the virus from the blood. The other 80% will remain infected and can pass it on to others. After a number of years they could develop:
- Chronic hepatitis
- Liver cirrhosis
- Liver cancer
A few people experience recurrent attacks of flu-like illness and/or chronic fatigue.

Those who have a current infection should be referred on to a specialist for further assessment which will include liver function tests (LFTs) and may include a biopsy (taking a small sample of liver tissue for examination).

The results of these investigations will help the specialist decide whether you would benefit from treatment.

The current medical treatment is a drug called alpha interferon. Trials are currently under way on newer drugs given in combination with interferon but these are not yet licensed for general use.

This treatment is not suitable for everybody but some patients can be successfully treated and will clear the virus.

Some people find that some complementary therapies are helpful in controlling their symptoms, but there is currently no scientific evidence to support this.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is a virus that can damage the body's defence system so that it cannot fight off certain infections.


What is AIDS?
If someone with HIV goes on to get certain serious illnesses, this condition is called AIDS which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

How is HIV passed on?
There are four main ways in which HIV can be passed on:
1. By having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom with someone who has HIV
2. By using needles, syringes or other drug-injecting equipment that is infected with HIV
3. From a woman with HIV to her baby (before or during birth) and by breastfeeding
4. By receiving infected blood, blood products or donated organs as part of medical treatment. In the UK all blood, blood products and donated organs are screened for HIV and infected materials are destroyed. This may not be the case in some developing countries and in eastern Europe, so you should avoid non-essential medical or dental treatment abroad.
You cannot get HIV through:
- Kissing, touching, hugging, shaking hands
- Sharing crockery and cutlery
- Coughing or sneezing
- Contact with toilet seats
- Insect or animal bites
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Eating food prepared by someone with HIV.

 

Facts about HIV and AIDS
- Most people with HIV look and feel healthy for a long time, so you can't tell who has the virus just by looking at them
- There is no available vaccine against HIV
- There is still no cure for HIV although anti-retroviral drugs have been developed which mean that some people can stay well for longer. These don't suit everybody.

Sex and staying safe


What is safer sex?

A simple way of understanding safer sex is to see it as any sex that does not allow an infected partner's blood, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid - precum - or fluid from the vagina to get inside the other partner's body. Some kinds of sex - such as kissing or masturbation - carry no risk of HIV.

What are the riskiest kinds of sex?
Vaginal and anal sex without a condom carry the highest risk. HIV can be passed on to either partner - male or female, active or passive - during penetrative sex (where the penis enters the vagina, mouth or anus) without a condom.



How safe is oral sex?
Oral sex is where one partner uses their tongue or mouth to stimulate their partner's genitals. There is some risk from oral sex, but it is less risky than vaginal or anal sex without a condom. The risk can be further reduced by:

- Avoiding getting semen or pre-ejaculatory fluid (precum) in the mouth, particularly if there are any cuts, sores or ulcers in the mouth
- Using a condom for oral sex with a man
What is an HIV test?
The test involves taking a blood sample, which is then checked for antibodies to HIV. Antibodies are your body's response to infection with a virus.

Most tests are carried out by NHS sexual health (GUM) clinics.

Click here for a clinic in your area or call the Sexual Health Line free on 0800 567 123 (UK only) for details of where you can get the test. NHS sexual health (GUM) clinics offer free HIV testing, and screening for other infections.

All information is kept strictly confidential.

You can go to any clinic, anywhere in the country. You don't have to use a local one and you don't have to be referred by your GP.

You can also get the test from your family doctor/GP; the result will probably be entered in your medical records.

What if the result is HIV negative?
This means that no antibodies to HIV were found in your blood. This usually means that you do not have HIV. It can however, take the body up to three months to produce antibodies. If you think you have been at risk less than three months ago, you might need to have a repeat test. Remember - even if your test result is negative you can still become infected in the future if you put yourself at risk again!

What if the result is HIV positive?
This means that you do have HIV antibodies in your blood and are HIV positive. This does not tell you whether you have AIDS.

Being HIV positive means you will need to look at ways of taking particular care of your own health. It also means that you can pass on the virus to others (but only in the ways already discussed). So:
- Always use a condom for vaginal, oral or anal sex
- If you inject drugs, do not let other people use your equipment
- Remember that you cannot pass on the virus through everyday social contact.

You will be offered a referral on to an HIV specialist.

There are treatments that can help delay the onset of AIDS and you can discuss whether or when to start these with your consultant.

This decision is an important one. How well treatment works can depend on starting it at the right time.

Pubic lice are tiny insects that live on the skin and are often referred to as "crabs". They tend to infest hairy parts of the body, such as the pubic area or under the arms. Signs and symptomsThe most common symptom is itching in the infected areas and it may be possible to see droppings from the lice in underwear (black powder) as well as eggs on pubic or other hair. It is sometimes possible to see lice on the skin.

Transmission
Pubic lice are usually sexually transmitted but can occasionally be transferred by close physical contact or by sharing sheets or towels.

Diagnosis and treatment
The lice can be seen on physical examination and may be examined under a microscope. Special shampoo or lotion can easily treat the lice.

Your sexual partner should also be checked and treated. Until treatment is completed, you can pass on pubic lice. You should avoid any sexual contact with anyone during treatment.

Long-term effects
It is advisable to have a follow up examination to make sure the lice are gone.


Scabies appears in the form of an itchy rash. It is caused by a female mite laying her eggs beneath the skin surface.

Signs and symptoms
The main symptom of scabies is an itchy rash on hands, wrists, elbows, underneath arms, abdomen, breasts, genitals and buttocks.

Transmission
Scabies is not necessarily sexually transmitted as any close physical contact can spread the infection.

Diagnosis and treatment
The rash can be seen on physical examination and may be examined under a microscope. Scabies is easily treated by special shampoo or lotion which you can get from your GP, NHS sexual health (GUM) clinic or you can buy from the chemist.

You should avoid any sexual contact with anyone until the course of treatment is completed.

Long-term effects
You will probably not need to see the doctor, or clinic, again following treatment