Some STDs Are Shyer Than Others
An STD, presumably one that was swabbed from William Morris's dick or ass
At some point, someone in a tight neon pink T-shirt has probably approached you in a club and handed you a free keyring in return for a pot of your piss and your phone number.
Fucking PUAs, right? Nah, mostly just sexual health workers, giving up their Friday and Saturday nights to protect you from chlamydia and those other diseases you already know the names of, yet still seem so keen to contract. But what they might not warn you about is the underclass of sexually transmitted nightmares waiting for you in the dicks, vaginas, mouths and assholes of the world.
So here are some of those to be afraid of.
TRICHOMONIASIS AKA "TRICH"
What is it? Contracted through vaginal intercourse, trich is a parasite that's becoming increasingly common in the UK. Once it finds its host (your uglies) it wriggles around making itself comfortable. It’s pretty harmless on the whole and may not show symptoms, but can cause itching, soreness and a nasty smell, as well as pain during sex.
Worse, if pregnant women carry the parasite, it can cause the unborn baby developmental problems. Let's face it, there's not much that sucks more than an innocent baby having to suffer for your disgusting libido.
Have you got it? Yeah, perhaps. Despite its low profile, it’s actually one of the most common STIs and apparently 1 in 5 people who pick it up will get re-infected within three months. Chances are you’ll have no idea you have it, which is why it’s so widespread.
Cure: A painless, short course of antibiotics usually does the trich. So, the only thing standing in the way of us stopping its rise to epidemic level is your laziness/cowardice. Looks like we're all good, I can't imagine that being a problem.
(pronounced: urea-plas-ma urea-lit-e-cum)
What is it? A sneaky bacterial infection that is, again, often symptomless. However, it's a pretty industrious disease, and if left to its own devices, could slowly savage your tubes and insides, causing infertility. If you’ve had it for a while, it can cause inflammation of the bladder and urethra, which means pain, needing to pee a lot and, well, more pain. Women might mistake the symptoms for cystitis, but not all pee-pain is the same, people.
It's harder to mistake for men, mostly because it makes dicks look like dead, crying baby whales.
Have you got it? Maybe. A large percentage of sexually active adults carry ureaplasma and, according to Channel 4's What Happens In Kavos, it's rife on the Greek strip as well.
Cure: Good old antibiotics save the day again.
What is it? For some reason, most people assume that scabies is an ancient disease, one that died out with child workhouses and British naval power. Alas, these tiny mites are still around, still burrowing into your genitals and still laying eggs in your skin.
When your parents warned you about catching scabies at festivals, they weren't far wrong: although most often spread through sexual contact, they can also be picked up from sharing bedding with someone who’s infected. You'll know you have it if your genitals or the bits between your fingers and toes itch like hell, leading to inflamed, broken and red skin that weeps to the touch.
Their burrows are visible on the skin as little grey ridges. I guess they're kind of like if herpes and bed bugs had a baby and made a B-line for your genitals. Tasty.
Have you got it? Maybe. Scabies in the UK went pretty quiet for a long time, but word on the street is they're rearing their tiny little heads again. Basically the more beds you sleep in and the more towels you share, the likelier you are to become infested with the spawn of a disease. Which might explain why DJs are constantly complaining about their jetsetting lifestyles on Twitter.
Cure: You’ll need to apply a gloopy lotion to your entire body and leave it on for 24 hours – and so will everyone living in the same house to prevent further contamination, otherwise you’ll probably just catch them back again. Might be an awkward one to explain to your housemates, but maybe you could make a social event of it. The Super Bowl's this Sunday. It might make that vaguely interesting.
What is it? The result of a heinous virus with one aim: to destroy your liver. There may be no symptoms until your liver is seriously damaged, which will cause a flu-like fever, tiredness, sickness and agonising stomach pain. Oh, and you’ll turn yellow. The worst-case scenario is liver failure which will cause you to require a transplant. Waiting on a donor list, permanently attached to tubes and swimming in steroids, is probably not how you envisaged the next two to four years of your life, right?
Have you got it? Unlikely. It’s fairly uncommon and although known to have been contracted through sex, it’s more notorious for being spread through needle sharing. Its favourite method of transport is blood, so unless you or the people you sleep with regularly shoot up, or you got too hard in the paint when vampires were the new rock and roll a few years back, you're probably fine.
Cure: There’s no quick fix for Hep C (yet). You need a blood test to find out if you're infected, and if you are, you’re looking at intensive anti-viral treatment for up to 18 months. You may come out of it fine, or you could suffer for life with the damage already caused pre-treatment. Or your liver might pack up early. Not to be a downer or anything, just make sure you check for it.
What is it? A bacterial infection contracted from oral, anal and vaginal sex, that causes large, sore, fleshy growths or ulcers over the genitals, groin and inner thighs. If left untreated for too long, the bacteria will basically eat away your vagina/penis/balls. Google it, I dare you.
Have you got it? Very, very unlikely – this infection is mainly endemic to developing countries in sub-tropical regions. Last year, there was just one reported case in the UK (contracted from abroad) and only 100 in the entire USA.
Cure: I know you're not expecting me to say it's curable, but good news, a month of trusty antibiotics should clear this right up. It’s important to get a check up around a month after treatment because it can reappear, but I imagine if you've contracted this one then you'll be furiously testing yourself for STDs on an hourly basis for the rest of your life.
Did I scare you enough? Well, I hope not, because it's not scary. Just remember to take advantage of the free healthcare we're all very lucky to have, and get yourself tested regularly. Go on, schedule an appointment during work hours. You're worth it.
Column – Bollocks to the Hippocratic Oath