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STIs, or Sexually Transmitted Infections

The acronym STI, Sexually Transmitted Infection, refers to a heterogeneous group of infections caused by pathogens acquired and transmitted mainly through sexual activity.

Until a few years back, STIs were called STDs: Sexually Transmitted Diseases or VDs, Venereal Diseases. The term “Infection,” on the other hand, is more appropriate because it underlines that many of these diseases may not give symptoms for months or even years, causing them to spread more easily among the population. This shows us how important prevention and an early diagnosis are.
Sexually Transmitted Infections may be caused by:

  • Viruses: HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C, Human papillomavirus, Genital herpes, Molluscum contagiosum.
  • Bacteria: Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gonorrhea), Treponema pallidum (Syphilis), Chlamydia trachomatis (Lymphogranuloma venereum), Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Gardnerella vaginalis.
  • Fungi: Candida albicans.
  • Protozoans: Trichomonas vaginalis.
  • Ectoparasites: Pubic lice.

When present, symptoms of STIs are often aspecific; some vaginal discharge may occur, pelvic pain, itching, pain during urination and/or sexual intercourse.

The diffusion of some of these pathogens may be prevented by vaccination, for example Hepatitis B, a disease which if not treated may cause cirrhosis of the liver or even hepatocellular carcinoma, or Papilloma virus, which may cause benign lesions such as genital warts, but also cervix, penis and rectal cancer.

For other pathogens for which vaccines are not available, it is highly recommended, besides adopting a behaviour which reduces the risk of contagion (for example using condoms), to undergo regular screening in order to detect the presence of a specific virus or bacteria before it causes irreversible damage to the organism or is unwittingly transmitted to other people. It is well to know that many STIs may be transmitted vertically, i.e. from mother to child during pregnancy or birth.

At the Dr. Giovanni Di Piazza Medical Testing Laboratory in Palermo the following blood tests are available:

HIV virus: antigen p24, HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in a single test.
Hepatitis A: Viral Hepatitis A Antibody
Hepatitis B: HBsAg, HBeAg, HBsAb, HbcAb, HBeAb
Hepatitis C: Viral Hepatitis C Antibody Screen
Herpes Virus: test for HSV antibodies
Treponema pallidum: VDRL and TPHA for the diagnosis of syphilis.

Urine samples can be tested for the presence of: Trichomonas vaginalis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and Candida.
Semen samples can be tested for common germs, Trichomonas vaginalis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Candida.
Vaginal and urethral swabs can be tested for common germs, Trichomonas vaginalis, Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Candida and Papilloma virus (HPV).

For further information on test times and costs, do not hesitate to contact us or ask for information through our contacts box.