Dublin health Screening is linked via the National Health Link project to the labs of St Vincents Hospital and St. James directly to ensure rapid results. Note a full STD screen at our Fitzwilliam street office in Dublin 2 is 125 euro and this includes the consultation rate and transfer of all samples to the national viral reference lab in UCD.
In the last 7 months we have seen a rise in the number of cases of chlamydia in the Dublin area. This is very important as it can often have no symptoms and yet can go on to cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and hence later lead to infertility. There are a number of reasons for this including changes to the social demographic and there has also been a high incidence seen in the student population.
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that can be passed from person to person when having sex. You can get an STI by having vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. There are several different types of STI.
The ten most common STIs in the Ireland are: anogenital warts, chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, pubic lice, syphilis, and trichomonas. These are briefly described below.
Anogenital wartsare small lumps that develop on the genitals and/or around the anus (back passage). They are sometimes just called genital warts. They are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, most people infected with HPV do not develop visible warts. You can be a ‘carrier’ of the virus without realising it, and you may pass on the virus to others who then develop warts. Treatment options include applying chemicals to the warts or freezing the warts to destroy them.
Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium (germ) called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the most common STI in the Ireland. Symptoms include a vaginal discharge in women, and a discharge from the penis in men. You can be infected with chlamydia for months, even years, without realising it as it often causes no symptoms. However, even if you have no symptoms, you can still pass on the infection and complications may develop if it is left untreated (such as pelvic infection and infertility in women). A short course of an antibiotic clears chlamydia in most cases.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Once you catch this virus it stays with you for life but lies dormant without causing symptoms for most of the time. In fact, many people who are infected with this virus never have symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can range from a mild soreness to many painful blisters on the vulva or penis and surrounding area. A first episode of symptoms can last 2-3 weeks, but may be shorter. Recurrent episodes of symptoms then develop in some cases from time to time, but are usually less severe than the first episode. (It is similar to having ‘cold sores’ on the genitals from time to time.) Antiviral medication can ease symptoms when they develop
Gonorrhoea is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Symptoms include a vaginal discharge in women, and a discharge from the penis in men. Again, some people infected with gonorrhoea do not develop symptoms. However, even if you have no symptoms, you can still pass on the infection and complications may develop if it is left untreated (such as pelvic infection and infertility in women). A short course of an antibiotic clears gonorrhoea in most cases.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is most commonly passed on by sexual contact. HIV attacks cells of the immune system. Over time (usually several years) the immune system ‘weakens’ so that you cannot defend your body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs. This is when AIDS develops (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Many infections and conditions can develop if you have AIDS. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs can reduce the ‘viral load’ of HIV and allow your immune system to work effectively. However, treatment does not clear the virus from the body. Therefore, if you are infected with HIV you will need monitoring for the rest of your life, and treatment is long-term.
Hepatitis B is a virus that primarily attacks the liver. The virus is mainly passed on by sexual contact, sharing contaminated needles to inject ‘street drugs’, or from an infected mother to her baby. The hepatitis B virus can cause a short term (acute) infection, which may or may not cause symptoms. Following an acute infection, some people develop a persistent infection called chronic hepatitis B. Many people with chronic hepatitis B remain well, but can still pass on the virus to others (as they are ‘carriers’). Some develop serious liver problems. If needed, antiviral medication may prevent or reduce the severity of liver inflammation and liver damage.
Hepatitis C is is a virus that primarily attacks the liver. Most cases occur in people who share needles to inject ‘street drugs’ that are contaminated with traces of infected blood. There is a small risk that an infected person can pass on the virus whilst having sex. Some people clear the infection naturally. Some people with persistent infection remain free of symptoms, but some have symptoms. After many years of infection some people develop cirrhosis (a severe scarring of the liver), and some develop liver cancer. Treatment is difficult but it can clear the infection in up to half of cases.
Pubic lice(often called ‘crabs’) are tiny insects about 1-2 mm long (smaller than a match-head). They lay eggs which hatch into lice after seven days. Pubic lice attach strongly to hairs, and do not wash or brush off with normal cleaning. Pubic lice are passed on by close bodily contact, especially when having sex. The main symptom is itch, usually in the pubic hair area. However, you may not have any symptoms, but may still pass on the lice to others. Treatment with a lotion or cream usually clears the lice.
Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. If it is not treated, it can spread in the bloodstream from the genital region to cause various symptoms and problems in different parts of the body over many years. A short course of antibiotics usually clears syphilis infection.
Trichomonas is a protozoan, which is a tiny germ similar to bacteria. It can cause an infection that is not normally serious but symptoms can be unpleasant. Symptoms include a vaginal discharge in women, and a discharge from the penis in men. Some people infected with trichomonas do not have symptoms but can still pass on the infection. A course of antibiotics usually clears trichomonas infection.
There are some other STIs that are uncommon in Ireland. For example, donovanosis and chancroid.
Sexually transmitted infections are common. Remember any sexually active person may be exposed to a sexually transmitted infection. If you suspect you have an infection get it checked out as soon as possible. Most treatments are simple and painless and you do not have to be admitted to hospital. Treatment is confidential, non judgmental. The staff in the clinic are trained to treat sexually transmitted infections in an understanding and helpful way so there is no need for you to feel embarrassed. If you are pregnant and think you may have picked up a sexually transmitted infection it is particularly important to get it checked out and treated as soon as possible. The D2 medical centre in Dublin 2 provides a private, comprehensive Sexually Transmitted Infection service which includes full STI testing, advice and necessary referrals or prescriptions.