What are Non Viral Sexually Transmitted Infections?

Morgan Clark and Danielle Berger, Teen Pep Advisors

High school is full of twists, turns, and unexpected events. From school work, to having a social life, to your significant other, finding time to take care of yourself may be difficult. Teen PEP is a school affiliated program that helps to educate the students here at West Orange High School about safe ways to communicate with your partner, seek out help if needed, and protect yourself from both viral and nonviral infections.

Lately, non-viral infections have been a major taboo throughout our school. Non-viral sexually transmitted infections are infections that can be treated and cured with the aid of medical attention. Three common bacterial STIs include, chlamydia, gonorrhea (commonly known as the “clap”), and syphilis. Each sexually transmitted infection comes with its own challenges and can affect the body in various ways if not properly treated.    

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact such as oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Chlamydia may seem like a rather uncommon infection to catch, but it effects over 200,000 people in the United States every year. This is an infection that can be transmitted to both men and women. Some of the symptoms include irregular or discolored discharge from the penis or vagina, as well as pain and/or discomfort while urinating. Though seemingly frightening, chlamydia is treatable and is an infection that, with the use of antibiotics, will go away within a few weeks.

Gonorrhea is another sexually transmitted infection that is common amongst men and women of all ages in the United States. Though you can spot symptoms of gonorrhea, such as a heavy period, pain during intercourse, and discharge from your genitals, gonorrhea requires testing and a proper diagnosis in order to accurately treat it. It is an infection that when treated with antibiotics, can last anywhere from days to weeks.

Another common type of bacterial infection is syphilis, which may be a lesser-known STI to some. Syphilis is a very serious infection, and if left untreated can be detrimental. It is a highly contagious infection, that if gone undetected, can render life threatening complications. What makes syphilis so dangerous is its ability to be active and then remain dormant for many years. Since the infection may seem like a yeast infection, many allow it to go untreated until it passes, but really it never leaves your body unless you have taken the proper medication. When untreated it progresses through many stages and can become active again, this time deadlier and untreatable, at a later stage in your life.

Though these bacterial infections are scary, rest assured that there are treatments that can cure them. So, how are STIs treated? How can you prevent yourself from catching an STI infection? Where can you get treated or diagnosed? These are all important questions that you might find yourself being concerned about. Although treatments for different types of STIs vary, the most common form of treatment is antibiotics.

Antibiotics have the ability to cure many sexually transmitted parasitic and bacterial infections, such as the aforementioned gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Also, it is not uncommon for gonorrhea and chlamydia to appear at the same time. It might sound disconcerting, but luckily, antibiotics are able to combat both infections at the same time. For example, viral infections, such as HIV and herpes, are treated with antiviral drugs, while bacterial infections, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, are treated with antibiotics.

Furthermore, it is highly important that you remain abstinent until the infection is healed and treatment is completed. Engaging in sex while infected with an STI will dramatically increase the chances of STI transmission between sexual partners.

Viral infections, unlike bacterial infections are not curable.  Antiviral drugs are used to suppress the symptoms that are associated with viral STI’s like herpes and HIV, but there is currently no cure for these viruses.  This will be discussed more in a future article.

An STI diagnosis will require specific tests. The most common test used to diagnose an STI are blood tests, urine samples, and fluid samples, which are samples of fluid taken from active genital sores that are used to diagnose the type of infection. Another form of testing is screening, which is used to test for a disease in someone that does not show symptoms. You can get tested for an STI at a local clinic/health care provider or hospital.

However, preventing the spread of STIs is not impossible. For example, consistent and correct condom use every time you engage in sexual intercourse is highly effective in reducing the risk of STI transmission. Condoms are the only form of contraceptives that protect against STIs. They are available in latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene material, and can be found at your local pharmacy/clinic. Also, abstaining from sex is another highly effective way that will reduce the risk of STI transmission. It is wise to talk to your partner about both of you getting tested prior to engaging in sexual activity. That way you and your partner can be sure that you are both safe.  If you or your partner are too embarrassed to talk about sex and testing, then maybe you are not ready for the responsibilities that come with sex.

Despite the fact that we may laugh at STIs and give them funny nicknames, STIs must be taken very seriously. If you find out that you have an STI, there’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed! There are plenty of people that are willing to offer moral support and information, such as a trusted friend/adult, a guidance counselor, doctors, and even WOHS’ Teen PEP.


Places Near You that Offer STI Testing

Planned Parenthood – East Orange Health Center

560 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Ste. 100 East Orange, NJ 07018



Planned Parenthood – Montclair Health Center

29 N Fullerton Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042



Planned Parenthood – Ironbound Health Center

70 Adams St., Newark, NJ 07105



Saint Barnabas Medical Center

94 Old Short Hills Rd., Livingston, NJ 07039