What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a common bacterial infection that’s spread through sex. Syphilis is easily cured with antibiotic medicine, but it can cause permanent damage if you don’t get treated.
Syphilis is serious — but it can be cured.
Syphilis is a really common STD. Syphilis is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Syphilis causes sores on your genitals (called chancres). The sores are usually painless, but they can easily spread the infection to other people. You get syphilis from contact with the sores. A lot of people with syphilis don’t notice the sores and feel totally fine, so they might not know they have it.
Syphilis can infect your vagina, anus, penis, or scrotum, and sometimes your lips and mouth. You can help prevent syphilis by using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex.
Syphilis can be easily cured with medication if you treat it early. But without treatment, it leads to really serious, permanent problems like brain damage, paralysis, and blindness. That’s why STD testing is so important — the sooner you know you have syphilis, the faster you can get rid of it.

How do you get syphilis?

Syphilis is spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it. You get it when your vulva, vagina, penis, anus, or mouth touches someone’s syphilis sores — usually during sex. Syphilis can be spread even if no one cums.
The main ways people get syphilis are from having vaginal sex and anal sex. It’s less common to get it from having oral sex, but it can happen. A mother can also pass syphilis to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth, which can be dangerous.
Syphilis is very easy to give to other people in the beginning, when there are sores. But lots of people don’t even know they have syphilis because they don’t notice the sores. Using condoms every time you have sex is one of the best ways to help prevent syphilis — even if you and your partner seem totally healthy.
Syphilis isn’t spread through casual contact, so you CAN’T get it from sharing food or drinks, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, sharing towels, or sitting on toilet seats.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

Syphilis symptoms can be hard to notice, and come and go over time. So the best way to know if you have syphilis is to get tested.
You might not notice any signs of syphilis.
Syphilis is sneaky, because you or your partner may not have any symptoms that you see or feel. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they have syphilis — that’s part of the reason it’s a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested).
The signs of syphilis can be so mild you don’t even notice them. Sometimes people confuse syphilis symptoms with other things, like pimples or rashes. Syphilis symptoms come and go over time, but that doesn’t mean the infection goes away. The ONLY way to get rid of syphilis is to take medicine for it.
Syphilis leads to serious problems if you don’t treat it. But it’s usually easy to cure it with antibiotics when you treat it early. That’s why regular STD testing is so important if you have sex, no matter how healthy you seem.
Syphilis can be kind of confusing because there are a few different stages, and they can overlap or happen around the same time. And there may be times when you have no symptoms at all — but the infection will still be there until you get it treated. Symptoms can vary with each stage, and they might not always happen in the same order for everyone.

Primary stage.

A syphilis sore (called a chancre) pops up — that sore is where the syphilis infection entered your body. Chancres are usually firm, round, and painless, or sometimes open and wet. There’s often only 1 sore, but you may have more.
Chancres can show up on your vulva, vagina, anus, penis, scrotum, and rarely, your lips or mouth. The sores may also hide deep in your vagina, under your foreskin, inside your rectum, and other places that are hard to see.
Syphilis sores are SUPER contagious and easily pass the infection to other people during sex. It’s easy to mistake a chancre for an ingrown hair, pimple, or harmless bump. And because the sores aren’t painful and can live in hidden places, you may not notice them.
Chancres typically show up anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months after you get the infection. The sores usually last about 3 to 6 weeks and then go away on their own — with or without treatment. But if you don’t get treated, you still have syphilis, even if the sores are gone. You have to take medication to cure syphilis and stop it from moving to the next stage.

Secondary stage.

Secondary stage symptoms include rashes on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, or other parts of your body. The secondary syphilis rash is sometimes hard to see, and it usually doesn’t itch. You may feel sick and have mild flu-like symptoms, like a slight fever, feeling tired, sore throat, swollen glands, headache, and muscle aches. You can also have sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus, and weight or hair loss.
Secondary stage symptoms (syphilis rash) can last 2 to 6 weeks at a time, and may come and go for up to 2 years. They’re similar to other common illnesses, so it can be hard to tell it’s syphilis. The symptoms from this stage will go away by themselves with or without treatment. But unless you get treated for syphilis, you’ll still have the infection in your body and it can move into the dangerous later stages. That’s why STD testing is so important.

Late stage.

In between the secondary stage and the late stage, there may be times when your syphilis infection is latent (there are no signs or symptoms at all) for months or even years — but you still need treatment to get rid of it. People who have had syphilis for a long time face serious health problems. Late stages of syphilis can cause tumors, blindness, and paralysis. It can damage your nervous system, brain and other organs, and may even kill you.
Syphilis is easily curable with antibiotics in the early stages. If you get treatment late, it will still cure the infection and stop future damage to your body. But the damage that late stage syphilis has already caused can’t be changed or healed.  The complications from late stage syphilis can happen 10-20 years after you first get infected.

Should I get tested for syphilis?

Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have syphilis. You should get tested if you or your partner has signs of syphilis, or if you’ve had unprotected sex.

How do I know if I have syphilis?

You can’t tell for sure if you have syphilis just by the way you feel. Like all STDs, the only way to know is to get tested.
If you notice a sore on your genitals or you’re showing any other signs of syphilis, get checked out by a nurse or doctor. Testing is also a good idea if you’ve had unprotected sex or if someone you’ve had sex with has syphilis (even if you don’t notice symptoms). If you’re pregnant, your doctor might recommend that you get tested for syphilis.
In general, people who are sexually active should get tested for STDs about once a year. You can ask your nurse or doctor if you should be tested for syphilis. The best part about getting tested for STDs. Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have syphilis, it’s best to know right away so you can get medicine and get it cleared up as soon as possible.

What happens during a syphilis test?

You can get tested for syphilis whether or not you have any sores or symptoms. Usually, your nurse or doctor will take a quick blood sample to test you for syphilis. If you have open sores, they may gently take a sample of fluid from the sore with a swab and test it.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. The good news is syphilis is totally curable with antibiotics — so the sooner you know you have it, the faster you can get rid of it.

Where can I get tested for syphilis?

You can get tested for syphilis and other STDs at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
STD testing isn’t always part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you may have to ask for it. Be open and honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: your doctor is there to help you, not to judge.

How do I get treated for syphilis?

Syphilis can be easily cured with antibiotics. Your sexual partners need to be treated, too. If you don’t treat syphilis, it can lead to very serious health problems.

What is the treatment for syphilis?

Syphilis is usually super easy to get rid of in the early stages. Your nurse or doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection — usually penicillin, unless you’re allergic or can’t take it for other reasons.
If you’re having syphilis treatment, it’s really important for your sexual partners to get treated also. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth, or to other people.

What do I need to know if I get treated for syphilis?

If you’re getting treated for syphilis:

Take all of your medicine the way your doctor tells you to, even if your symptoms go away sooner.
Your partner(s) should also get tested and treated for syphilis, so you don’t re-infect each other or anyone else.
Don’t have any kind of sex (vaginal, anal, oral) until you and your partners have finished your treatments, and any sores are totally healed.
Don’t share your medicine with anyone. If your partner needs treatment, you should each get your own separate doses of antibiotics. Make sure you both take all of the medicine prescribed to you.
Even if you finish your treatment and the syphilis is totally gone, it’s still possible to get a new syphilis infection again if you’re exposed in the future. Syphilis isn’t a one-time-only deal. So, use condoms and/or dental dams and get tested regularly.

What happens if I don’t get treated for syphilis?

Even though syphilis is common and has mild symptoms in the beginning, it can become a really big deal if it’s not treated. You can also easily pass it to other people.
Syphilis is easily cured in the early stages. But if you don’t treat syphilis early on, it can get worse and do serious harm to your body in the future. Late stage syphilis can lead to health problems that can’t be reversed or healed, like blindness or paralysis.
Syphilis can also cause problems if you’re pregnant. Syphilis can be passed to your fetus during pregnancy or to your baby at birth. This is called congenital syphilis, and it’s very dangerous. Congenital syphilis can lead to stillbirth, birth defects, or infant death. You should be tested for syphilis if you’re pregnant to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Having syphilis also increases your chances of getting or spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

How is syphilis prevented?

Syphilis is spread through sexual contact. So the best way to prevent syphilis is to get tested regularly and use condoms and/or dental dams if you have sex.

How do I avoid getting syphilis?

Syphilis is spread from sexual contact with someone who has it. It can be passed even if no one cums. Syphilis is spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
So, the best way to avoid syphilis and other STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex at all. But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection when you have sex really helps to lower your chances of getting an STD.
Getting tested for STDs regularly is another important way to keep yourself healthy.

How can I make sure I don’t give anyone syphilis?

If you find out that you have syphilis, don’t panic. Syphilis is easily cured, and there are a few ways to make sure you don’t give it to other people.
Tell your past and present sexual partners that you have syphilis, so they can get tested and treated too.
Don't have sex with ANYONE until you’ve totally finished your treatment and your syphilis sores are completely healed.
Your sex partners should also be treated before they have sex with anyone again, including you.
Once you’ve finished your treatment and start having sex again, use condoms every single time you have sex.
Telling someone you have an STD isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. But syphilis is really, REALLY common and can be easily cured, so try not to be too embarrassed or stressed out about it. Once you get the conversation over with, you can both get treated and get on with your lives.

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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.
There's no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations.
The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection.
Primary infection (Acute HIV)
Most people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. Possible signs and symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Sore throat and painful mouth sores
  • Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
These symptoms can be so mild that you might not even notice them. However, the amount of virus in your bloodstream (viral load) is quite high at this time. As a result, the infection spreads more easily during primary infection than during the next stage.
Clinical latent infection (Chronic HIV)
In some people, persistent swelling of lymph nodes occurs during this stage. Otherwise, there are no specific signs and symptoms. HIV remains in the body and in infected white blood cells.
This stage of HIV infection generally lasts around 10 years if you're not receiving antiretroviral therapy. But sometimes, even with this treatment, it lasts for decades. Some people develop more severe disease much sooner.
Symptomatic HIV infection
As the virus continues to multiply and destroy your immune cells — the cells in your body that help fight off germs — you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Oral yeast infection (thrush)
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
Progression to AIDS
Thanks to better antiviral treatments, most people with HIV in the U.S. today don't develop AIDS. Untreated, HIV typically turns into AIDS in about 10 years.
When AIDS occurs, your immune system has been severely damaged. You'll be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers — diseases that wouldn't usually trouble a person with a healthy immune system.
The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Recurring fever
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes or bumps
When to see a doctor
If you think you may have been infected with HIV or are at risk of contracting the virus, see a health care provider as soon as possible.
More Information
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic
HIV is caused by a virus. It can spread through sexual contact or blood, or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.
How does HIV become AIDS?
HIV destroys CD4 T cells — white blood cells that play a large role in helping your body fight disease. The fewer CD4 T cells you have, the weaker your immune system becomes.
You can have an HIV infection for years before it turns into AIDS. AIDS is diagnosed when the CD4 T cell count falls below 200 or you have an AIDS-defining complication.
How HIV spreads
To become infected with HIV, infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions must enter your body. This can happen in several ways:
  • By having sex.You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity.
  • From blood transfusions.In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. American hospitals and blood banks now screen the blood supply for HIV antibodies, so this risk is very small.
  • By sharing needles.Sharing contaminated intravenous drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes) puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.
  • During pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding.Infected mothers can pass the virus on to their babies. HIV-positive mothers who get treatment for the infection during pregnancy can significantly lower the risk to their babies.
How HIV doesn't spread
You can't become infected with HIV through ordinary contact. That means you can't catch HIV or AIDS by hugging, kissing, dancing or shaking hands with someone who has the infection.
HIV isn't spread through the air, water or insect bites.
Risk factors
When HIV/AIDS first appeared in the United States, it mainly affected men who had sex with men. However, now it's clear that HIV also spreads through heterosexual sex.
Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected. However, you're at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:
  • Have unprotected sex.Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex. Anal sex is more risky than is vaginal sex. Your risk of HIV increases if you have multiple sexual partners.
  • Have an STI.Many STIs produce open sores on your genitals. These sores act as doorways for HIV to enter your body.
  • Use intravenous drugs.People who use intravenous drugs often share needles and syringes. This exposes them to droplets of other people's blood.
  • Are an uncircumcised man.Studies suggest that lack of circumcision increases the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV.
HIV infection weakens your immune system, making you much more likely to develop numerous infections and certain types of cancers.
Infections common to HIV/AIDS
  • Tuberculosis (TB).In resource-limited nations, TB is the most common opportunistic infection associated with HIV. It's a leading cause of death among people with AIDS.
  • This common herpes virus is transmitted in body fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, semen and breast milk. A healthy immune system inactivates the virus, and it remains dormant in your body. If your immune system weakens, the virus resurfaces — causing damage to your eyes, digestive tract, lungs or other organs.
  • Candidiasis is a common HIV-related infection. It causes inflammation and a thick, white coating on the mucous membranes of your mouth, tongue, esophagus or vagina.
  • Cryptococcal meningitis.Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Cryptococcal meningitis is a common central nervous system infection associated with HIV, caused by a fungus found in soil.
  • This potentially deadly infection is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite spread primarily by cats. Infected cats pass the parasites in their stools, which may then spread to other animals and humans. Seizures occur when it spreads to the brain.
  • This infection is caused by an intestinal parasite that's commonly found in animals. You get it when you eat or drink contaminated food or water. The parasite grows in your intestines and bile ducts, leading to severe, chronic diarrhea in people with AIDS.
Cancers common to HIV/AIDS
  • Kaposi's sarcoma.A tumor of the blood vessel walls, this cancer is rare in people not infected with HIV, but common in HIV-positive people. It usually appears as pink, red or purple lesions on the skin and mouth. In people with darker skin, the lesions may look dark brown or black. Kaposi's sarcoma can also affect the internal organs, including the digestive tract and lungs.
  • This cancer starts in the white blood cells. The most common early sign is painless swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin.
Other complications
  • Wasting syndrome.Aggressive treatment approaches have reduced the number of cases of wasting syndrome, but it still affects many people with AIDS. It's defined as a loss of at least 10 percent of body weight, often accompanied by diarrhea, chronic weakness and fever.
  • Neurological complications.Although AIDS doesn't appear to infect the nerve cells, it can cause neurological symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, depression, anxiety and difficulty walking. One of the most common neurological complications is AIDS dementia complex, which leads to behavioral changes and reduced mental functioning.
  • Kidney disease.HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is an inflammation of the tiny filters in your kidneys that remove excess fluid and wastes from your blood and pass them to your urine. It most often affects blacks or Hispanics. Anyone with this complication should be started on antiretroviral therapy.
There's no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. But you can protect yourself and others from infection.
To help prevent the spread of HIV:
  • Use a new condom every time you have sex.Use a new condom every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Women can use a female condom. If using lubricant, make sure it's water-based. Oil-based lubricants can weaken condoms and cause them to break. During oral sex use a nonlubricated, cut-open condom or a dental dam — a piece of medical-grade latex.
  • Consider the drug Truvada.The drug emtricitabine-tenofovir (Truvada) can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in people at very high risk. You need to take it every day. It doesn't prevent other STIs, so you'll still need to practice safe sex. If you have hepatitis B you should be evaluated by an infectious disease or liver specialist before beginning therapy. You will need a blood test to check your kidney function before taking this drug.
  • Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV.It's important to tell all your current and past sexual partners that you're HIV-positive. They'll need to be tested.
  • Use a clean needle.If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it's sterile and don't share it. Take advantage of needle-exchange programs in your community and consider seeking help for your drug use.
  • If you're pregnant, get medical care right away.If you're HIV-positive, you may pass the infection to your baby. But if you receive treatment during pregnancy, you can cut your baby's risk significantly.
  • Consider male circumcision.There's evidence that male circumcision can help reduce a man's risk of getting HIV infection.
HIV is most commonly diagnosed by testing your blood or saliva for antibodies to the virus. Unfortunately, it takes time for your body to develop these antibodies — usually up to 12 weeks.
A quicker test checks for HIV antigen, a protein produced by the virus immediately after infection. It can confirm a diagnosis soon after infection and allow the person to take swifter steps to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Home testing
At least two Food and Drug Administration-approved home test kits for HIV are available. Depending on which you choose, you'll need a drop of dried blood or sample of saliva. If the test is positive, you'll need to see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and discuss your treatment options. If the test is negative, it needs to be repeated in a few months to confirm the results.
Tests to stage disease and treatment
If you receive a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, several tests can help your doctor determine the stage of your disease and the best treatment. These tests include:
  • CD4 T cell count.CD4 T cells are white blood cells that are specifically targeted and destroyed by HIV. Even if you have no symptoms, HIV infection progresses to AIDS when your CD4 T cell count dips below 200.
  • Viral load (HIV RNA).This test measures the amount of virus in your blood. A higher viral load has been linked to a worse outcome.
  • Drug resistance.Some strains of HIV are resistant to medications. This test helps your doctor determine if your specific form of the virus has resistance and guides treatment decisions.
Tests for complications
Your doctor might also order lab tests to check for other infections or complications, including:
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Liver or kidney damage
  • Urinary tract infection
There's no cure for HIV/AIDS, but many different drugs are available to control the virus. Such treatment is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. Each class of drug blocks the virus in different ways. ART is now recommended for everyone, regardless of CD4 T cell counts. It's recommended to combine three drugs from two classes to avoid creating drug-resistant strains of HIV.
The classes of anti-HIV drugs include:
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)turn off a protein needed by HIV to make copies of itself. Examples include efavirenz (Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence) and nevirapine (Viramune).
  • Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)are faulty versions of the building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include Abacavir (Ziagen), and the combination drugs emtricitabine/tenofovir (Truvada), Descovy (tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine), and lamivudine-zidovudine (Combivir).
  • Protease inhibitors (PIs)inactivate HIV protease, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir (Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva) and indinavir (Crixivan).
  • Entry or fusion inhibitorsTblock HIV's entry into CD4 T cells. Examples include enfuvirtide (Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
  • Integrase inhibitorswork by disabling a protein called integrase, which HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 T cells. Examples include raltegravir (Isentress) and dolutegravir (Tivicay).
When to start treatment
Everyone with HIV infection, regardless of CD4 T cell count, should be offered antiviral medication.
HIV therapy is particularly important for the following situations:
  • You have severe symptoms.
  • You have an opportunistic infection.
  • Your CD4 T cell count is under 350.
  • You're pregnant.
  • You have HIV-related kidney disease.
  • You're being treated for hepatitis B or C.
Treatment can be difficult
HIV treatment plans may involve taking several pills at specific times every day for the rest of your life. Each medication comes with its own unique set of side effects. It's critical to have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your health and treatment.
Some of the treatment side effects are:
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Heart disease
  • Weakened bones or bone loss
  • Breakdown of muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Higher blood sugar
Treatment for age-related diseases
Some health issues that are a natural part of aging may be more difficult to manage if you have HIV. Some medications that are common for age-related heart, bone or metabolic conditions, for example, may not interact well with anti-HIV medications. It's important to talk to your doctor about your other health conditions and the medications you are taking.
Treatment response
Your doctor will monitor your viral load and CD4 T cell counts to determine your response to HIV treatment. CD4 T cell counts should be checked every three to six months.
Viral load should be tested at the start of treatment and then every three to four months during therapy. Treatment should lower your viral load so that it's undetectable. That doesn't mean your HIV is gone. It just means that the test isn't sensitive enough to detect it.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Along with receiving medical treatment, it's essential to take an active role in your own care. The following suggestions may help you stay healthy longer:
  • Eat healthy foods.Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein help keep you strong, give you more energy and support your immune system.
  • Avoid raw meat, eggs and more.Foodborne illnesses can be especially severe in people who are infected with HIV. Cook meat until it's well-done. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood such as oysters, sushi or sashimi.
  • Get the right immunizations.These may prevent infections such as pneumonia and the flu. Make sure the vaccines don't contain live viruses, which can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Take care with companion animals.Some animals may carry parasites that can cause infections in people who are HIV-positive. Cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis, reptiles can carry salmonella, and birds can carry cryptococcus or histoplasmosis. Wash hands thoroughly after handling pets or emptying the litter box.
Alternative medicine
People who are infected with HIV sometimes try dietary supplements that claim to boost the immune system or counteract side effects of anti-HIV drugs. However, there is no scientific evidence that any nutritional supplement improves immunity, and many may interfere with other medications you are taking.
Supplements that may be helpful
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine.Researchers have used acetyl-L-carnitine to treat nerve pain in people with diabetes. It may also ease nerve pain linked to HIV if you're lacking in the substance.
  • Whey protein.Early evidence suggests that whey protein, a cheese byproduct, can help some people with HIV gain weight. Whey protein also appears to reduce diarrhea and increase CD4 T cell counts.
Supplements that may be dangerous
  • John's wort.A common depression remedy, St. John's wort can reduce the effectiveness of several types of anti-HIV drugs by more than half.
  • Garlic supplements.Although garlic itself may help strengthen the immune system, garlic supplements interact with several anti-HIV drugs and reduce their ability to work. Occasionally eating garlic in food appears to be safe.
Be sure to discuss the use of any dietary supplement with your doctor before trying it to ensure that it won't adversely interact with any of your medications.
Coping and support
Receiving a diagnosis of any life-threatening illness is devastating. The emotional, social and financial consequences of HIV/AIDS can make coping with this illness especially difficult — not only for you but also for those closest to you.
But today, there are many services and resources available to people with HIV. Most HIV/AIDS clinics have social workers, counselors or nurses who can help you directly or put you in touch with people who can.

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Painful Orgasm

What causes painful orgasm in men, and how can it be treated?

Painful orgasm (painful ejaculation) is commonly described as a pain or burning sensation that happens when a man ejaculates. He may feel pain between his anus and genitals or in his testes. He may also feel it in the urethra, the tube that semen passes through. Pain may be mild or severe.

A man may become so frustrated by this pain that he starts to avoid sex. His relationship with his partner may suffer as a result. Many men with painful ejaculation experience depression and anxiety.

Painful orgasm can have a number of causes:

Inflammation and Infections

  • Prostatitis - inflammation of the prostate gland, which is involved with semen production

  • Orchitis - inflammation of one of both testes, the glands that make sperm

  • Urethritis - inflammation of urethra, the tube that semen passes through when a man ejaculates.

  • Sexually-transmitted infections – such as trichomoniasis

Pelvic Conditions and Treatments

  • Prostate cancer

  • Pelvic radiation

  • Lower pelvic surgery– such as radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate)

  • Nerve damage in the penis– such as from an injury or complications of diabetes.

  • Chronic pain in the pelvis

  • Blockages in the ejaculatory system- from cysts or stones

Some antidepressants, spermicides, and contraceptive creams have also been linked to painful ejaculation.

Sometimes, the cause of painful ejaculation is more difficult to pinpoint. Psychological problems can play a role, especially if a man has pain only with a partner, not when he masturbates.

To treat painful orgasm, a doctor must first determine the cause. Usually this involves a thorough medical exam. Sometimes, samples of urine or semen are analyzed.

Medications may help if there is inflammation of the testicles, prostate or urethra. Men who have sexually-transmitted infections are usually given antibiotics.

If painful ejaculation is a side effect of medication, it may help to lower the dose (with a doctor’s guidance) or change the medication type.

Men who have painful ejaculation due to nerve damage often find that the situation gets better as the nerve heals. This may take up to two years.

Counseling or sex therapy can be helpful if the problem is psychological.

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Discolored semen

Discolored semen

Should I be concerned about discolored semen?
Semen is normally a whitish-gray color. It's usually quite thick after ejaculation, but liquefies within 30 minutes.
Changes in the appearance of semen might be temporary and not a health concern. However, sometimes these changes can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires further evaluation.
If changes persist for longer than a week or two or if the color change is associated with other symptoms such as pain, fever, sexual dysfunction or blood in the urine, see your doctor for an evaluation.

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