Microcheck 257

Viral STDs are at least as common as bacterial STDs, but so far they are incurable. Genital herpes simplex is widespread and like most other STDs can be transmitted in the absence of symptoms. Human papillomaviruses cause genital warts; some play an important role in cancer of the cervix and probably cancers of the vagina, penis, and rectum. HIV disease generally ends in AIDS; despite advances in treatment, millions around the world die of the disease every year because they do not have access to therapy, and as yet there is no effective vaccine.

■ What are the possible consequences of sexually transmitted papillomavirus infections for men, women, and babies?

■ What kinds of sex partners present a high risk of transmitting human immunodeficiency virus?

■ Why do you think AIDS is regarded as the most important sexually transmitted disease of the twentieth century? (Other diseases are more widespread.)

■ Why should a person be concerned about genital herpes simplex—is it not just a cold sore on the genitals? Explain.

25.8 Protozoal STDs

Table 25.15 HIV Disease and AIDS


No symptoms, or "flu"-like symptoms early in the illness; an asymptomatic period typically lasting years; symptoms of lung, intestine, skin, eyes, brain, and other infections, and certain cancers

Incubation period

About 6 days to 6 weeks for "flu"-like symptoms; many months or years for cancers and unusual infections

Causative agents

Usually human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1)


The virus infects CD4+ lymphocytes and macrophages, thereby slowly destroying the ability of the immune system to fight infections and cancers


HIV present in blood, semen, and vaginal secretions in symptomatic and asymptomatic infections; spread usually by sexual intercourse, sharing of needles by injected-drug abusers, and from mother to infant at childbirth. Other STDs foster transmission

Prevention and treatment

Abstinence from sexual intercourse and drug abuse monogamy; consistent use of latex condoms; avoidance of sexual contact with injected-drug abusers, those with multiple partners or history of STDs. Anti-HIV medication for expectant mothers and their newborn infants.Treatment: reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors in combination

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