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HIV, Aids and Other STDs - Intimate Peril

Nobody likes to think that making love can kill, but unfortunately that possibility exists. Even if it isn’t fatal, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can cause you pain, embarrassment and turn your life upside down.

STDs are infections almost always passed along during sex with someone who’s infected. Syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia and HIV/AIDS are a few of the more common varieties. While STDS are dangerous for everyone, women run the added risk of passing their infection on when they give birth and while breastfeeding. (There are very effective ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, by the way, so many women who test positive choose to have their babies.)

Condoms—both the male and female varieties—greatly limit but do not completely eliminate the risk of catching and spreading STDs. And remember, people don’t get STDs because they belong to a particular group or have a certain sexual orientation; it’s not who you are, it’s what you do. In Japan, awareness that unprotected sex can put you at risk is still relatively low, and these diseases are spreading much faster as a result.

Healthcare providers can successfully treat virtually all STDs caused by bacteria or parasites with antibiotics and other medicines. However, a new strain of gonorrhea caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae—coincidentally first identified in Japan—is reportedly resistant to all available treatments, including cephalosporin.

There is no cure for STDs caused by a virus, such as HIV/AIDS, but medicines can keep the disease under control. In fact, treatment is now effective enough to allow people who are HIV positive to live a more or less normal lifespan.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 34 million people worldwide now have HIV. In its new guidelines, the WHO says that one key to preventing the virus from damaging the immune system—its major weapon—is to diagnose HIV as early as possible and begin treatment, particularly in the case of children.

In Japan, whether you go to a public health center or a hospital, HIV tests are confidential—they’re legally prohibited from telling anyone but you about your test results. You are also not required to give out any personal information (and if someone asks, tell them no). Under the system, you’re assigned a number. You can call in, give your number, and get your results.

Japanese hospitals offer a standard of HIV treatment equal to the best in the world. Just like testing, treatment is confidential, and you can discuss your treatment options and other issues with your doctor or medical professional.

If the heat of the moment has produced the unexpected in the form of an STD, we hope you’ll explore your options on this HealthyIM page and find the help you need.