Sexually transmitted disease

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infectious diseases transmitted by both sexual contact and other means. Historically, illnesses passed solely by sexual contact were called venereal disease, after Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Venereal diseases generally are infections that require such close contact for transmission that sexual intercourse is one of the only natural ways to catch them.

More recently, the term sexually transmitted diseases has become popular, and includes all of the venereal diseases. Its acronym, the letters STD, is not only an abbreviation but the spoken term used most commonly when referring to this category of illnesses. STDs are the set of infectious diseases and parasitic infestations that are seen most frequently in promiscuous populations, and most can be passed by close contact of various kinds. Although some are transmitted exclusively by sexual contact, others, like Hepatitis B infection and HIV infection, are at least as often spread by other means. Other infections included in this category STD include ailments like oral Herpes simplex 1, also called cold sores, which are most often spread by contact that is not sexual. Sometimes, the acronym STI, for sexually transmitted infections is used in place of STD.

Using a liberal definition, the diseases generally considered STDs include:

Further adding to the heterogeneity of the conditions described, some clinicians include anything "catching" that can be caught from close physical contact that is common in patients who also have venereal diseases, including parasites like lice, that are not generally thought of as either an infection or a disease; but as an infestation. Again, this phrase "sexual transmission" used in the term originally arose among health care workers caring for populations of patients that shared these diseases from a combination of sexual contact. intravenous drug abuse, and close physical contact in residential conditions that were often unsanitary. One problem with the popular use of this term in the clinical health sciences that it bears a social stigma, and technically applies to common medical conditions that may occur in virgins who have never abused drugs, and live in the most sanitary of human environments.

Care and management of STDs is directed by clinical practice guidelines in the United States of America by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[1]


Condom use is highly effective although not perfect.

Male circumcision reduces the incidence of Herpes simplex virus type 2 and some Human papilloma virus.[2]

Postexposure chemoprophylaxis is available for some diseases, and is especially appropriate after sexual attack.


  1. Anonymous (2010) Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010
  2. Tobian AA, Serwadda D, Quinn TC, et al (2009), "Male circumcision for the prevention of HSV-2 and HPV infections and syphilis", N. Engl. J. Med. 360 (13): 1298–309, DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa0802556