Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States today. More than 20 different STDs have been identified, and 13 million men and women are infected each year in the United States. Depending on the disease, the infection can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs or the mouth. The infection can also be spread through contact with blood during sexual activity. STDs affect men and women of all ages and backgrounds. STDs have become more common, partly because young people are becoming sexually active at a younger age and are having multiple partners.

People can pass STDs to sexual partners even if they themselves do not have any symptoms. Frequently, STDs cause no symptoms, especially in women.



Chlamydia is a curable STD. Chlamydia can be passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth. Untreated, Chlamydia can severely damage the reproductive system of women and men and can lead to infertility, the inability to have a child.

Women: Most women do not have symptoms.

  • If present, symptoms are mild.

Men: Many men don’t have symptoms.

  • If present, they are usually mild.
  • Some may have a discharge from the penis.

Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.


Gonorrhea is a curable STD. Gonorrhea is passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Gonorrhea can also be passed from a mother with the disease to her baby during vaginal childbirth. Gonorrhea can lead to infertility if left untreated.

Women: Most women do not have symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may be mild. They may include:

  • Pain or burning while urinating.
  • An unusual vaginal discharge.

Men: Many men do not have symptoms. If symptoms are present, they will appear two to five days after infection. Symptoms may include:

  • A burning sensation while urinating.
  • A white, green or yellowish discharge from the penis.
  • In some men, swollen and painful testicles.

Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics.


Herpes is a STD caused by herpes simplex viruses of the mouth (oral herpes) or the genital area (genital herpes). Herpes can be passed through direct skin-to-skin contact. Herpes is common in the U.S.; most people don’t know they have it, or mistake the symptoms for another disease.


  • Typical herpes is a small cluster of bumps that eventually crust over and scab like a cut.
  • A person may show signs of herpes weeks, months, or years after infection.
  • Many people do not have symptoms, or have very mild symptoms, which are mistaken for other illnesses.

There is no treatment that can cure herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication. In addition, daily suppressive therapy (i.e., daily use of antiviral medication) for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV is a disease that is passed through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk of an infected person. People without symptoms or signs of illness can pass HIV to others.


  • A person may have no sign of being infected with HIV for years.
  • You cannot look at someone and tell whether he/she is infected with HIV.
  • The only way to know for certain is through an HIV test.

There is no cure for HIV, but there is treatment. With proper medical care, medication and nutrition, a person with HIV can live a long and healthy life. Pregnant women with HIV should receive prenatal care and treatment to prevent spreading HIV to their baby.


If you believe you are infected with an STD, you must get tested and treated.

  • Many STDs can be cured. Others cannot be cured. But all STDs can and must be treated.
  • Many STDs can be treated with antibiotics. Do exactly what your provider tells you. Be sure to take all of your medicine.
  • You also must tell your sexual partner(s). If they aren't treated, they can get sick. They can spread the STD and even might give it to you again.

Your Primary Care Provider
Call your primary care provider if you believe you are infected with an STD.

City of Racine Health Department
Cost: Call for pricing
730 Washington Ave
Lower Level—Room 4
Racine, WI 53403

Walk-in Clinic:
Mondays 2:00 PM — 5:30 PM
Wednesdays 10:00 AM — 12:30 PM
Call (262) 636-9431 as hours may change.

Planned Parenthood:
Estimated Cost: Sliding Scale
834 Main Street
Racine, WI 53403
Call for appointment (262) 634-2060.


  1. Abstinence (not having sex) is the most reliable way to avoid STDs.
  2. Have a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
  3. Reduce the number of sex partners that you have.
  4. Use condoms consistently and correctly each time you have sex.
  5. Get vaccinated—it is a safe, effective and recommended way to prevent HPV and Hepatitis B.
  6. Know your status by getting tested for HIV and STDs and insist your partners get tested too.
  7. Educate yourself by learning all you can about STDs and other sexual health issues.

For more information on STDs:

For more information on symptoms of STDs, how they are spread, how they are treated, how they can be prevented, go to: