STD FAQ. Part Three

Is hepatitis B deadly?

Sometimes hepatitis B may cause complications that lead to death. Hepatitis B affects people in two ways. Most people have an acute infection, which means that after they contract the virus, their immune system successfully fights it off until they are no longer infectious. Most of these people never show symptoms, and often never know they had hepatitis B. In some cases, however, a person is not able to successfully fight it off. When the body is not able to clear the virus, the person becomes a chronic carrier and may remain infectious for life. Chronic carriers are at risk for cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and death. The good news is that there is a vaccine to prevent people from getting hepatitis B. Check with your health care provider. Currently, this is the only Viral STD that is completely preventable by vaccination.

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How does herpes affect pregnancy?

Most pregnant women who have herpes have healthy pregnancies and successful vaginal deliveries. The health care provider should be alerted to the possibility of a herpes infection so she or he can keep an eye out for any outbreak that might occur in the birth canal. If an outbreak is present at the time of delivery, a caesarean section may be performed to avoid exposing the infant during delivery. Although complications are rare, the greatest risk is if a woman has her first outbreak while she is pregnant or if an infant is exposed to the virus during delivery.

So, what’s the connection between HIV and other STDs?

When someone is diagnosed with one STD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing for other STDs as well. The risk behavior that allowed transmission of one STD may have put a person at risk for others. STDs may also make a person more vulnerable to contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Some STDs like herpes or syphilis may cause sores that cause breaks in the skin, creating added places for body fluids to enter these areas. Healthy skin may provide a more protective barrier.