Part 2 – Healthy Living for Life – A Growing Epidemic: STDs in the Elderly Population

welcome back we're talking to Shelly Maag from the Lewis and Clark County Health Department about the growing prevalence of STDs among older adults thanks for being on our show today Shelly are sexually transmitted diseases or STDs only spread through sexual activity well majority of them are through sex spread through sexual activity but there are some that are spread through skin-to-skin contact such as herpes and HPV genital warts they also can be spread through contaminated needles so some of those same STDs that get spread through sex can be spread through contaminated meet needles such as HIV and hepatitis B okay what are some of the more common STDs what do those look like what are some of the symptoms so the most common STD is in in America plus in Montana is chlamydia and most majority of people don't have symptoms they have it and they don't know it and they spread it but if left untreated it can cause a lot of problems but if symptoms do occur it usually occurs you know within a few weeks after exposure and it can be women can have a lot of similar to a urinary tract infection burning with urination is probably one of the most common symptoms and Men similar to burning when they urinate okay let's talk about HPV what is that and is there a vaccination for that HPV is human papilloma virus and there is a vaccine for that human papilloma virus can cause cancers and can cause genital warts so it's one of these that you can get and not know it if it's cancer and of course with genital warts you can develop the the warts and there is a vaccine for it it's recommended for people from 11 years old to 26 years old it's not really recommended for older people because their the likelihood that they've already been exposed to HPV at that age and so it doesn't it's not really recommended to protect them against it okay so there is a vaccination for HPV how about other STDs are there vaccines for any others the only other STDs that there is vaccine for is hepatitis B and so that is a three-shot series that is routinely given to young to toddlers babies nowadays but that does protect you against hepatitis B okay how does a doctor or another healthcare professional test for an STD there's lots of different ways at the health department we can test for chlamydia and gonorrhea just by a urine specimen and we get a specimen urine and send it in and that lets us know if if they have chlamydia or gonorrhea we also do rapid HIV testing which is just a finger stick drop of blood also doctors offices can draw blood to test for stuff like herpes HIV syphilis and they can do swabs which they would swab the cervix of women they can swab those lesions different tissues throat depending on where the infection could be okay behind could also do that and then so that's that's mainly how you get tested okay and our STDs treated can they be cured through medications or how do you how do you cure an STD STDs bacterial STDs such as chlamydia gonorrhea and syphilis can be cured through antibiotics and the viral STDs aren't really curable but they're treatable so for it says HIV has a medication that can decrease the viral load and help you be less apt to spread it Hep B does have a treatment that I'm not familiar with it is an FDA approved but I'm not familiar with that and then herpes has medication that helps control the outbreaks okay so with viral STDs then those can't necessarily be cured so how does a person transmit that disease to other people so it could be spread through sex and oral vaginal or anal sex it can be spread skin-to-skin contact typically when they're having symptoms and sometimes when they're first exposed they're more infectious but for instance herpes if you're on a medication for herpes the it may suppress it maybe lessen you may be less infectious let me put it that way our Hep B for instance if somebody's had the vaccine series for Hep B they could be protected from getting the disease too and have the organism cleared from your system some people their immune system works well and can clear it so it wouldn't be infectious at that point okay if you do have a viral STD and you are infectious is that something that lasts the rest of your life yes depending on if you if you cleared it you wouldn't be infectious but for the most part herpes can last the rest of your life HPV you could spread that if you had that and didn't know it okay so we talked a little bit before the break about if you detect an STD early that sort of puts off some of those long-term outcomes or consequences from STDs can you talk a little bit about what those might be what happens if an STD goes untreated so there's different things chlamydia STDs in general can cause for women pelvic inflammatory disease if left untreated which is sometimes can cause scarring in your reproductive system can cause chronic abdominal pain infertility etc syphilis can cause other problems such as later in life if you don't know you have supposed to get treated can cause some dementia some a lot of other problems and multi organ systems in your body okay if you're treated for an STD can you get it again or does that prevent it yes so if your for instance chlamydia if you're treated with an antibiotic and you get exposed to the chlamydia again you can get it again and then you take the same antibiotic again to cure it same with gonorrhea and syphilis they can all be you know and then there's different strains of HIV too but yes you can get it again okay so a treatment or or a quote cure isn't going to prevent that in the future correct okay so then you would have to go get the treatment again okay all right thank you very much we need to pause for a quick break but we'll continue this conversation after these messages we're gonna talk about HIV and how to prevent STDs stay with us we'll be right back

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