What is the Most Common Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, but many people infected with it have no symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attribute the increase in congenital syphilis and decrease in other STIs to a decline in screening. This is likely due to safety concerns, as people may have stayed home out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Vaccines and prevention protocols for COVID-19 may help alleviate these worries. Common symptoms of STIs, such as burning when urinating, itching, and genital sores, require immediate attention from a healthcare provider.

However, some may not have any symptoms, making regular testing essential. Knowing what to look out for can help you address STIs before they cause long-term harm or spread within a community. Here is what you need to know about eight common STIs.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

- Public awareness of HPV has increased in recent years due to the availability of an HPV vaccine. HPV can cause pink or flesh-colored bumps that itch, cause discomfort, and bleed.

More concerning are the strains of the virus that can lead to cervical cancer, penile cancer, or mouth and throat cancer. Health care providers can detect HPV, which is one of the most common STIs in the US. Vaccination can reduce much of this risk by protecting against the strains most likely to cause cancer.


- Syphilis is transmitted through direct contact with a syphilis sore, called a chancre. It may start with a round, firm, painless sore located on the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth.

Sometimes these sores go unnoticed because they are painless and then the symptoms go away. However, the infection continues to progress during this stage. If left untreated, later stages of the disease can damage the heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, joints and skin.

Hepatitis A

- Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is usually found in stool and can spread within a home through close personal contact, food or water contamination, and international travel. An HAV vaccine is available.

Hepatitis B

- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is also sexually transmitted.

It can be transmitted through the exchange of body fluids or through sharing needles or from mother to child during delivery. A vaccine is available for this virus. There is a more chronic form of HBV that can cause serious liver damage such as scarring, cancer, liver failure and death.Hepatitis C - Like HBV, sexual intercourse can also transmit hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is transmitted through blood, semen and other body fluids. Unfortunately there is no HCV vaccine that prevents contracting HCV although treatments are available.

This STI can also cause liver failure and death.


- In women symptoms of trichomoniasis may include itching, burning, redness or pain in the genitals; discomfort when urinating is common as is a fine discharge that may be clear white yellowish or greenish with an unusual odor. In men symptoms may include itching or irritation inside the penis burning after urinating or ejaculating or some discharge from the penis. Since men generally have no symptoms they often do not know they are infected do not seek medical attention and therefore transmit this parasite to other partners in case of an accident without treatment this infection can last for months or years.


- Gonorrhea was so problematic in 19th century England that parliament passed a law to thwart “the dangerous burn disease”. There is also evidence that the disease affected the Roman army as early as 100 BC.

In more modern times gonorrhea may be on the rise due to the pandemic and according to the CDC an antibiotic-resistant strain of the disease is becoming increasingly common making it more difficult to treat.


- The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for this STI which may have no signs or symptoms. Others however may experience burning when urinating or abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis.


- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be prevented with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug that helps prevent infection with HIV which has become increasingly visible in advertisements on trains and buses recently. Additionally a medication can be taken after an alleged exposure to HIV and antiviral drugs should be taken regularly for life if someone has already been infected with HIV. During early stages of HIV people may experience swollen glands fever muscle aches headaches or extreme fatigue lasting 2 to 4 weeks then progresses to “clinical latency” during which symptoms may disappear for years depending on whether person is being treated during late stage of HIV known as AIDS virus has weakened immune system so much that significant and unexplained weight loss can occur along with night sweats fever rare frequent and serious infections persistent dry cough and unusual skin rashes. These delays amount to an increase in transmission of STDs as well as an increased risk of serious complications such as untreated pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause scarring of fallopian tubes infections due to syphilis gonorrhea or herpes increase risk of contracting HIV PID causes infertility.

Ethel Kosowski
Ethel Kosowski

Passionate explorer. Avid pop culture evangelist. Amateur food buff. Amateur pop culture lover. Amateur beer trailblazer.

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