Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs In Women) (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, formerly referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs)?
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) and Genital Warts
- Ectoparasitic Infections
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) FAQs
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is liver inflammation (hepatitis) that is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The HCV causes acute and chronic viral hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis B, however, hepatitis C is infrequently transmitted sexually, so that it is unusual as an STD. It is primarily spread by exposure to infected blood, such as from sharing needles for drug use, piercing, tattooing, and occasionally sharing nasal straws for cocaine use. Some babies born to women infected with HCV will also become infected with the virus. Sometimes there is no method of spread identifiable.
Most infected people have no symptoms, so a delayed or missed diagnosis is common. In contrast to HBV, with which chronic infection is uncommon, the majority of people infected with hepatitis C develop chronic (long-term) infection. However, as is the case with hepatitis B, chronically infected individuals are infectious to others and are at an increased risk of developing severe liver disease and its complications, even if they have no symptoms.
How is hepatitis C infection diagnosed?
Hepatitis C infection is diagnosed by using a standard antibody blood test. The antibody indicates an exposure to the virus at some time. Thus, the hepatitis C antibody is found in the blood during acute hepatitis C, after recovery from the acute hepatitis, and during chronic hepatitis C. Individuals with a positive antibody test can then be tested for evidence of virus in the blood by a test that detects the genetic material of the virus (called the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR). The PCR test rarely is needed to diagnose acute hepatitis C but sometimes can be helpful to confirm the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C.
The most important fact to remember about sexually transmitted infections is that all of them are preventable. However, the risks of these infections are often downplayed and thus forgotten by many. The use of condoms can help decrease the risk of transmission of certain infections, but they do not prevent the transmission of many infections. There is truly no such thing as safe sex. Sex in the context of a monogamous relationship wherein neither party is infected with a STD is, however, considered safe.
Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, MD, MBA, FAAFP; Diplomat American Board of Family Medicine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)." National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. Division of STD Prevention. 3 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm>.
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Previous contributing authors and editors: Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, MD, FACP.
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