Hepatitis- What is it and Why Should I Worry?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.  This condition can be self-limiting (goes away, like a cold) or can lead to liver damage. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) in the world.

What are the Different Types of Hepatitis and How Can I Avoid Them?

There are 5 types of Hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E

Hepatitis A is transmitted (spread) through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Most cases of Hepatitis A are mild and most people make a full recovery. Some cases can be severe and life threatening. There is a vaccine available for Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B is transmitted from exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. Hepatitis B can also be spread from an infected mother to her infant at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. There is a vaccine that available for Hepatitis B and is a 3 step vaccination process.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through exposure to infected blood. Injection drug use is the most common way Hepatitis C is spread in the US. Needle stick injuries in health care settings is another, as well as being born to a hepatitis C infected mother. Sexual transmission is possible, but much less common. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis D is a dual transmission and only those infected with Hepatitis B can get Hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E is similar to Hepatitis A and is transmitted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis E, but they are not widely used.


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Gonorrhea Superbug- A Potential Concern


Youth STD Infographic

Gonorrhea is a common STD. It is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


What is a “superbug?”

Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. When an antibiotic becomes ineffective at treating a bacteria, that bacteria is considered “antibiotic resistant.” When a bacteria becomes resistant to many antibiotics, it can be referred to as a “superbug.”


How do superbugs happen?

As a part of nature, things adapt in order to survive. Bacteria will do the same thing. One way is for bacteria to “learn” to fight against antibiotics. Antibiotics work to destroy bacteria in certain ways. Bacteria can become immune or resistant to some antibiotics. This can happen when antibiotics are not taken appropriately.

If an antibiotic is not taken for the full length of time and dose, the bacteria is not fully killed off by it, and the bacteria learns from the antibiotic. The next time that bacteria is introduced to that antibiotic, the bacteria knows how to avoid it and survive.

This process is similar to a cold virus and humans. Our bodies are introduced to cold virus, we survive, and our bodies know how to fight off the virus the next time we encounter it.


How are healthcare professionals preventing a superbug version of gonorrhea from happening?

When treating STDs, healthcare professionals follow a strict guideline. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) continues to monitor for possible antibiotic resistances in STDs. These guidelines change as the antibiotics become less effective.  For example, the guidelines for treating gonorrhea have changed approximately 3 times since 2010.

Current guidelines were changed in 2015. The current recommendations are to use two antibiotics. One must be given as a shot (ceftriaxone) and the other must be taken as a pill (azithromycin)


How can I protect myself from gonorrhea?

Abstinence from sex is the best way to prevent gonorrhea. Use a condom every time you have any kind of sexual contact (including oral sex). Talk to your healthcare professional about getting tested for STDs if you are at risk.


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HIV teens

PrEP, or  Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is the latest medication in preventing the spread of HIV.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus. Unlike other viruses, once a person gets HIV, they have it for life. HIV virus weakens the body’s immune system, making it harder for the person to fight off other infections. HIV can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

What is PrEP?

FDA has approved drug called Truvada that has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV in those who take the medication daily. The drug is a combination of two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine). These medications were previously used to help HIV positive patients (patients who have HIV). When testing the drug on HIV negative (people who do not have HIV) clients, researchers found that these two drugs combined also helped prevent HIV negative clients from becoming HIV positive

Who Should Take PrEP?

PrEP is a prophylaxis (meaning something that can prevent) for HIV. PrEP is recommended for those who are HIV negative and are at very high risk for getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. Guidelines recommend that a person who is HIV negative take the medication daily if in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive. There are other recommendations including people who have injected drugs, those who do not use condoms regularly, and gay or bisexual man who has had unprotected sex or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months. Talk to your doctor to see if you are considered at risk.

Does PrEP replace condoms?

No. PrEP is only used to prevent HIV from spreading to those who do not already have it, but are at high risk of becoming HIV positive. PrEP does not prevent against other STDs or from becoming pregnant.


Click here for a video on how PrEP works


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STD Testing and Treatment

Why is this Important to Me?

In 2014, Peoria County ranked 2nd highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Illinois. STDs continue to be a problem, especially for Peoria County.

STD in Peoria County

Should I get Tested for STDs?
According to the CDC:

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years. Women over 25 who are at risk for STDs should also be tested.
  • Screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months)

What is Expedited Partner Therapy?

When a person comes in to get tested for an STD and the results come back positive, they are treated for the STD. The person can then be offered a prescription to give to their partner(s) to also be treated for the STD. This allows the partner(s) to be treated for the STD without needing to be seen.

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HPV- Human Papillomavirus



Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How is HPV Spread?

HPV is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Most HPV infections do not have symptoms and can go unrecognized.

Why Should I Worry?

Most sexually active people become infected with HPV at least one time in their lives (CDC, 2015).

There are about 100 different types of HPV. Different strands of the virus cause different problems. Some can cause genital warts while others can cause precancers and cancers such as cervical, penile, and oropharyngeal.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

What Does HPV Look Like?

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.

How Can I Protect Myself Against HPV?

You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV.

  • Get vaccinated. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get all three doses.
  • Women between 21 and 65 should get a routine screened for cervical cancer.
  • If you are sexually active:
    • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV.
    • Be in a mutually monogamous relationship – or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.

HPV Vaccine Guidelines

HPV vaccines typically come in a 3 dose series and are given over a 6-month period.

  • Girls should can get the vaccine as early as 9 years, but typically start around 11-12.
    • If you have not received the vaccine, girls and women aged 13-26 can start the series. It is also recommended that boys receive the vaccine as well.
  • Boys can get the vaccine at age 9, typically recommended between 11-12 years but can be vaccinated between 13-21 years if they have not received the vaccine.

For more information, check out: http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/whatishpv.html