Health Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

The Most Important Thing In Life Is Taking A Proactive Approach to Your Health In Real Time.

A healthy lifestyle with accurate knowledge cannot only prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses, but improve longevity, improve self-esteem, self-image and overall health.

What can I do to prevent getting STDs and HIV?

The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting STDs and HIV:

    • Choose less risky sex activities;
    • Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish);
    • Reduce the number of people with whom you have sex;
    • Limit or eliminate drug and alcohol use before and during sex;
    • Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs and HIV;
    • Talk to your healthcare provider and find out if either pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a good option for you to prevent HIV infection.
If I already have HIV, and then I get an STD, does that put my sex partner(s) at an increased risk for getting HIV?

It can. If you already have HIV, and then get another STD, it can put your HIV-negative partners at greater risk of getting HIV from you.

Your sex partners are less likely to get HIV from you if you

  • Get on and stay on a treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART). Taking HIV medicine as prescribed can make your viral load very low by reducing the amount of virus in your blood and body fluids. HIV medicine can make your viral load so low that a test can’t detect it (an undetectable viral load). If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners, even if you have other STDs.
  • Choose less risky sex activities.
  • Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish).

The risk of getting HIV also may be reduced if your partner takes PrEP medications, as prescribed, after discussing this option with his or her healthcare provider and determining whether it is appropriate. When taken as prescribed, PrEP medications are highly effective for preventing HIV from sex. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. Since PrEP does not protect against other STDs, use condoms the right way every time you have sex.

Will treating STDs prevent me from getting HIV?

No. It’s not enough.

If you get treated for an STD, this will help to prevent its complications, and prevent spreading STDs to your sex partners. Treatment for an STD other than HIV does not prevent the spread of HIV.

If you are diagnosed with an STD, talk to your doctor about ways to protect yourself and your partner(s) from getting reinfected with the same STD, or getting HIV.

Are some STDs associated with HIV?

Yes. In the United States and Globally, people who get syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes often also have HIV or are more likely to get HIV in the future

Risks for Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.   You can get genital herpes from an infected partner, even if your partner has no herpes symptoms.  There is no cure for herpes, but medication is available to reduce symptoms and make it less likely that you will spread herpes to a sex partner.

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Risks for Genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is so common that most sexually active people get it at some point in their lives. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. 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. HPV is passed on through genital contact (such as vaginal and anal sex). You can pass HPV to others without knowing it.

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Risks for Chlamydia

Most people who have chlamydia don’t know it since the disease often has no symptoms.  Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States.  Sexually active females 25 years old and younger need testing every year. Although it is easy to cure, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant if left untreated.

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Risks for Gonorrhea

Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea, an STD that can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. But it can be easily cured.  You can get gonorrhea by having anal, vaginal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can give the infection to her baby during childbirth.

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Risks for Syphilis

Any sexually active person can get syphilis. It is more common among men who have sex with men. Syphilis is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Pregnant women with syphilis can give the infection to their unborn babies.

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What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health problems if it is not treated. Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). There are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage.

How is syphilis spread?

You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can find sores on or around the penis, vagina, or anus, or in the rectum, on the lips, or in the mouth. Syphilis can spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby

What does syphilis look like?

Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary), with different signs and symptoms associated with each stage. A person with primary syphilis generally has a sore or sores at the original site of infection. These sores usually occur on or around the genitals, around the anus or in the rectum, or in or around the mouth. These sores are usually (but not always) firm, round, and painless. Symptoms of secondary syphilis include skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. The signs and symptoms of primary and secondary syphilis can be mild, and they might not be noticed. During the latent stage, there are no signs or symptoms. Tertiary syphilis is associated with severe medical problems.  A doctor can usually diagnose tertiary syphilis with the help of multiple tests. It can affect the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.

What are the signs and symptoms of syphilis?

Symptoms of syphilis in adults vary by stage:

Primary Stage

During the first (primary) stage of syphilis, you may notice a single sore or multiple sores. The sore is the location where syphilis entered your body. Sores are usually (but not always) firm, round, and painless. Because the sore issyphilis palmar rash (on hands) painless, it can easily go unnoticed. The sore usually lasts 3 to 6 weeks and heals regardless of whether or not you receive treatment. Even after the sore goes away, you must still receive treatment. This will stop your infection from moving to the secondary stage.

Secondary Stage

During the secondary stage, you may have skin rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions. Mucous membrane lesions are sores in your mouth, vagina, or anus. This stage usually starts with a rash on one or more areas of your body. The rash can show up when your primary sore is healing or several weeks after the sore has healed. The rash can look like rough, red, or reddish-brown spots on the palms of your hands and/or the bottoms of your feet. The rash usually won’t itch and it is sometimes so faint that you won’t notice it. Other symptoms you may have can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue (feeling very tired). The symptoms from this stage will go away whether or not you receive treatment. Without the right treatment, your infection will move to the latent and possibly tertiary stages of syphilis.

syphilis rash on back

Secondary rash from syphilis on torso.

Latent Stage

The latent stage of syphilis is a period of time when there are no visible signs or symptoms of syphilis. If you do not receive treatment, you can continue to have syphilis in your body for years without any signs or symptoms.

Tertiary Stage

Most people with untreated syphilis do not develop tertiary syphilis. However, when it does happen it can affect many different organ systems. These include the heart and blood vessels, and the brain and nervous system. Tertiary syphilis is very serious and would occur 10–30 years after your infection began.  In tertiary syphilis, the disease damages your internal organs and can result in death.

Neurosyphilis and Ocular Syphilis

Without treatment, syphilis can spread to the brain and nervous system (neurosyphilis) or to the eye (ocular syphilis). This can happen during any of the stages described above.

Symptoms of neurosyphilis include

  • severe headache;
  • difficulty coordinating muscle movements;
  • paralysis (not able to move certain parts of your body);
  • numbness; and
  • dementia (mental disorder).

Symptoms of ocular syphilis include changes in your vision and even blindness.

Can syphilis be cured?

Yes, syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics from your health care provider. However, treatment might not undo any damage that the infection has already done.

I’ve been treated. Can I get syphilis again?

Having syphilis once does not protect you from getting it again. Even after you’ve been successfully treated, you can still be re-infected. Only laboratory tests can confirm whether you have syphilis. Follow-up testing by your health care provider is recommended to make sure that your treatment was successful.

It may not be obvious that a sex partner has syphilis. This is because syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth. Unless you know that your sex partner(s) has been tested and treated, you may be at risk of getting syphilis again from an infected sex partner.

Risks for Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is common among women of childbearing age. Any woman can get BV, but women are at a higher risk for BV if they have a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, use an intrauterine device (IUD), and/or douche.

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What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Although symptoms of the disease vary, most people who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected.

How do people get trichomoniasis?

The parasite passes from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra). In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra). During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis. It can also spread from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not. It probably depends on factors like a person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.

What are the signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis?

About 70% of infected people do not have any signs or symptoms. When trichomoniasis does cause symptoms, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Some people with symptoms get them within 5 to 28 days after being infected. Others do not develop symptoms until much later. Symptoms can come and go.

Men with trichomoniasis may notice:

  • Itching or irritation inside the penis;
  • Burning after urination or ejaculation;
  • Discharge from the penis.

Women with trichomoniasis may notice:

  • Itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals;
  • Discomfort with urination;
  • A change in their vaginal discharge (i.e., thin discharge or increased volume) that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish with an unusual fishy smell.

Having trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years.

What is the treatment for trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis can be treated with medication prescribed by a doctor. These pills are taken by mouth. It is safe for pregnant women to take this medication.

People who have been treated for trichomoniasis can get it again. About 1 in 5 people get infected again within 3 months after receiving treatment. To avoid getting reinfected, all sex partners should get treated with antibiotics at the same time. Wait to have sex again until everyone has been treated and any symptoms go away (usually about a week). Get checked at 3 months to make sure you have not been infected again, or sooner if your symptoms come back before then.

How can trichomoniasis be prevented?

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting trichomoniasis:

  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
  • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting trichomoniasis.

Another approach is to talk about the potential risk of STDs before you have sex with a new partner. That way you can make informed choices about the level of risk you are comfortable taking with your sex life.

If you or someone you know has questions about trichomoniasis or any other STD, talk to a health care provider.

Risks for HIV

The most common ways HIV is transmitted in the United States is through anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with a person infected with HIV. Although the risk factors for HIV are the same for everyone, some racial/ethnic, gender, and age groups are far more affected than others.

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What Is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. There is currently no effective cure for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled.

Health Behavior and Risk?

Your health behaviors also affect your risk. You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. HIV is commonly transmitted through anal or vaginal sex without a condom or sharing injection and other drug injection equipment with a person infected with HIV. Substance use can increase the risk of exposure to HIV because alcohol and other drugs can affect your decision to use condoms during sex. To learn more about your HIV risk and ways to reduce these risks, visit:

Get tested and treated for other STDs and encourage your partners to do the same?

All adults and adolescents from ages 13-64 should be tested at least once for HIV and high-risk groups get tested more often.  STDs can have long-term health consequences.  They can also increase your chance of getting HIV or transmitting it to others. It is important to have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs.  Your healthcare provider can offer you the best care if you discuss your sexual history openly. Find an HIV/STD testing site.

How do HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and STDs relate to each other?

Persons who have an STD are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected persons to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact. In addition, if a person who is HIV positive also has an STD, that person is more likely to transmit HIV through sexual contact than other HIV-infected persons.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV are bloodborne viruses transmitted primarily through sexual contact and injection drug use. Because of these shared modes of transmission, a high proportion of adults at risk for HIV infection are also at risk for HBV infection. HIV-positive persons who become infected with HBV are at increased risk for developing chronic HBV infection and should be tested. In addition, persons who are co-infected with HIV and HBV can have serious medical complications, including an increased risk for liver-related morbidity and mortality.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. For persons who are HIV infected, co-infection with HCV can result in a more rapid occurrence of liver damage and may also impact the course and management of HIV infection.

Less Risky Sexual Behavior

Oral sex is much less risky than anal or vaginal sex for HIV transmission. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for HIV transmission. If you are HIV-negative, insertive anal sex (topping) is less risky for getting HIV than receptive anal sex (bottoming). Sexual activities that do not involve the potential exchange of bodily fluids carry no risk for getting HIV (e.g., touching).

What activities can put me at risk for both STDs and HIV?
  • Having anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom;
  • Having multiple sex partners;
  • Having anonymous sex partners;
  • Having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lower inhibitions and result in greater sexual risk-taking.
How can I prevent getting HIV from sex?
Learn about your HIV risk and how to lower it.

Choose Sexual Activities With Little to No Risk

  • Choose sex that is less risky than anal or vaginal sex. There is little to no risk of getting HIV through oral sex.
  • You can’t get HIV from sexual activities that don’t involve contact with body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid, or blood).
  • Learn more about how HIV is and is not transmitted.

Use Condoms the Right Way Every Time You Have Sex

  • Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants to help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping during sex.
  • Learn the right way to use an external condom (sometimes called a male condom) and an internal condom (sometimes called a female condom).
icon of a bottle of pills

Take PrEP

  • PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent HIV.
  • If taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex.
  • PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken as prescribed.
  • Find out if PrEP is right for you.

Decide Not to Have Sex

  • Not having sex (also known as being abstinent) is a 100% effective way to make sure you won’t get HIV through sex.
  • You can be abstinent at different times in your life for different reasons that may change over time.
  • Not having sex also prevents other STDs and pregnancy.

Get Tested and Treated for Other STDs

  • If you have another STD, you are more likely to get HIV. Getting tested and treated for other STDs can lower your chances of getting HIV.
  • Many people with an STD may not know they have one because they don’t have symptoms.
  • Find a testing site near you.
What are condoms?

Most condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and certain other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Condoms provide less protection against STDs that can be transmitted through sores or cuts on the skin, like human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and syphilis.

Condoms help prevent HIV for higher-risk sexual activities like anal or vaginal sex, and for lower-risk activities, like oral sex and sharing sex toys.

You can buy condoms at many stores or online, and you can sometimes get them for free from clinics or health departments.

What are the main types of condoms?
condom icon

There are two main types of condoms: condoms used externally and condoms used internally.

An external condom (sometimes called a male condom or just a condom) is worn over the penis during sex. It is a thin layer of latex, plastic, synthetic rubber, or natural membrane.

  • Latex condoms provide the best protection against HIV.
  • Plastic (polyurethane) or synthetic rubber condoms are good for people with latex allergies. Note: Plastic condoms break more often than latex condoms.
  • Natural membrane (such as lambskin) condoms have small holes in them and don’t block HIV and other STDs. These should not be used for HIV or STD prevention.

An internal condom (sometimes called a female condom) is used in the vagina or anus during sex. It is a thin pouch made of a synthetic latex product called nitrile. HIV can’t travel through the nitrile barrier.

How do I use an external condom?
condom icon

To use an external condom

  • Carefully open and remove the condom from the wrapper.
  • Place the condom on the tip of the hard penis. If uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin first.
  • Pinch the air out of the tip of the condom. While holding the tip, unroll the condom all the way down the penis.
  • After sex but before pulling out, hold the bottom of the condom and carefully pull out the penis.
  • Carefully remove the condom and throw it in the trash.

If you feel the condom break any time during sex, stop immediately, pull out the penis, take off the broken condom, and put on a new condom.

Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants during sex to help keep the condom from tearing. Don’t use oil-based lubricants because they can weaken the condom and cause it to break.

How do I use an internal condom?
condom icon

To use an internal condom

  • Carefully open and remove the condom from the package.
  • While holding the condom at the closed end, squeeze the sides of the inner ring together and insert it into the vagina or anus.
  • Use your finger to push the inner ring up until it rests against the cervix in the vagina or as far into the anus as it can go.
  • Be sure the condom is not twisted. The thin, outer ring should remain outside the vagina or anus.
  • Guide your partner’s penis into the opening of the condom.
  • After sex, gently twist the outer ring and pull the condom out.
  • Carefully throw the condom in the trash after using it one time.

Stop intercourse if you feel the penis slip between the condom and the walls of the vagina/anus or if the outer ring is pushed into the vagina/anus.

Use lubricant during sex to help keep the condom from slipping or tearing. It is safe to use any lubricant with an internal condom.

How can I prevent transmitting HIV to my baby?

Get Tested for HIV As Soon As Possible to Know Your Status

  • The earlier HIV is diagnosed and treated, the more effective HIV medicine will prevent transmission to your baby.
  • If you or your partner engage in behaviors that put you at risk for HIV, get tested again in your third trimester.
  • You should also encourage your partner to get tested for HIV.
icon of a bottle of pills

Take Medicine to Prevent HIV if You Do Not Have HIV But Are at Risk

  • If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your health care provider about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
  • PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
  • Find out if PrEP is right for you.
icon of a pregnant woman

Take Medicine to Treat HIV

  • If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy and childbirth, and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be 1% or less.
  • After delivery, you can prevent transmitting HIV to your baby by avoiding breastfeeding, since breast milk contains HIV.
  • If your partner has HIV, encourage your partner to get and stay on treatment. This will help prevent your partner from transmitting HIV to you. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
How can I prevent getting HIV after a recent possible exposure, like if a condom breaks or I’m sexually assaulted?

There is a medicine you can take to prevent getting HIV after recent exposure. Talk to your health care provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider right away about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

  • PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure.
  • The sooner you start PEP, the better. Every hour counts.
  • If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it daily for 28 days.
Can male circumcision prevent HIV?

Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of male circumcision.

  • Male circumcision does decrease the risk of getting HIV in some situations, but it doesn’t decrease the risk of HIV as much as other HIV prevention options.
  • Circumcised men are less likely than uncircumcised men to get HIV from vaginal sex with a partner with HIV.
  • Male circumcision does not decrease a woman’s risk of getting HIV.
  • The benefits of circumcision for gay and bisexual men are unknown.
  • Circumcised men should take other actions to prevent getting HIV or to protect their partners.
Can I get vaccinated to prevent HIV?

No vaccine is currently available to prevent HIV.

Hepatitis FAQs

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Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Infection

HAV infection has an incubation period of approximately 28 days (range: 15–50 days) (1296). HAV replicates in the liver and is shed in high concentrations in feces from 2–3 weeks before to 1 week after the onset of clinical illness. HAV infection produces a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease. However, approximately 10% of patients experience a relapse of symptoms during the 6 months after acute illness. Acute liver failure from hepatitis A is rare (overall case-fatality rate: 0.5%). The risk for symptomatic infection is directly related to age, with approximately 70% of adults having symptoms compatible with acute viral hepatitis and the majority of children having either asymptomatic or unrecognized infection. Antibody produced in response to HAV infection persists for life and confers protection against reinfection (1297).

HAV infection is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route, by either person-to-person contact or through consumption of contaminated food or water (1298). Transmission of HAV during sexual activity probably results from fecal-oral contact. Although viremia occurs early during infection and can persist for weeks after symptom onset, the bloodborne transmission of HAV is uncommon (1299). Transmission by saliva has not been demonstrated.

HAV Prevention

Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing HAV transmission among persons at risk for infection (e.g., MSM, injecting drug users, and persons with chronic liver disease) who did not receive hepatitis A vaccination during childhood. Hepatitis A vaccines are prepared from formalin-inactivated, cell-culture–derived HAV. Two monovalent vaccines (Havrix and Vaqta are approved by FDA for persons aged ≥12 months

What puts me at risk for Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person. Due to routine vaccination of children, Hepatitis A has decreased dramatically in the United States. Although anyone can get Hepatitis A, certain groups of people are at higher risk, including men who have sex with men, people who use illegal drugs, people who travel to certain international countries, and people who have sexual contact with someone who has Hepatitis A.

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Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection

The incubation period for HBV infection from time of exposure to symptom onset ranges from 6 weeks to 6 months. The highest concentrations of HBV are located in the blood, with lower concentrations in other body fluids including wound exudates, semen, vaginal secretions, and saliva. HBV is more infectious and more stable in the environment than other bloodborne pathogens (e.g., HCV or HIV).

HBV infection can be either self-limited or chronic. Among adults, approximately half of newly acquired HBV infections are symptomatic, and approximately 1% of reported cases result in acute liver failure and death. The risk for chronic infection is inversely related to age at acquisition; approximately 90% of infected infants and 30% of infected children aged <5 years become chronically infected, compared with 2%–6% of persons who become infected as adults (1312). Among persons with chronic HBV infection, the risk for premature death from cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma is 15%–25% .

HBV is efficiently transmitted by percutaneous or mucous membrane exposure to HBV-infected blood or body fluids that contain HBV. The primary risk factors associated with infection among adolescents and adults are unprotected sex with an infected partner, having multiple partners, men having sex with men, having a history of other STIs, and injecting drug use.  In addition, studies have demonstrated other modes of HBV transmission, including premastication and lapses in health care infection control procedures, as less common sources of transmission.

What puts me at risk for Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is usually spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact with an infected person or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth.

Among adults in the United States, Hepatitis B is most commonly spread through sexual contact and accounts for nearly two-thirds of acute Hepatitis B cases. Hepatitis B is 50–100 times more infectious than HIV.

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Pre-Exposure Vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all unvaccinated children and adolescents; all unvaccinated adults at risk for HBV infection, especially injecting drug users; MSM; adults with multiple sex partners; sex partners, needle-sharing contacts, or household contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B; and persons with diabetes and all adults seeking protection from HBV infection

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection

HCV infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, with an estimated 2.4 million persons living with chronic infection. HCV is not efficiently transmitted through sex. Studies of HCV transmission between heterosexual couples and MSM have yielded mixed results; however, studies have reported either no or minimally increased rates of HCV infection among partners of persons with HCV infection compared with partners of those without HCV. However, data indicate that sexual transmission of HCV can occur, especially among persons with HIV infection. Increasing incidence of acute HCV infection among MSM with HIV infection has been reported in multiple U.S. and European cities. A recent systematic review reported an HCV incidence of 6.35 per 1,000 person-years among MSM with HIV infection. An association exists with high-risk and traumatic sexual practices (e.g., condomless receptive anal intercourse or receptive fisting) and concurrent genital ulcerative disease or STI-related.

Hep C Prevention

Reducing the burden of HCV infection and disease in the United States requires implementing both primary and secondary prevention activities. Primary prevention reduces or eliminates HCV transmission, whereas secondary prevention identifies persons through screening and then provides treatment to reduce chronic liver disease and other chronic diseases and HCV transmission. No vaccine for hepatitis C is available, and prophylaxis with IG is not effective in preventing HCV infection after exposure. PEP using direct-acting antivirals is not recommended.

Persons with HCV infection should be provided information about how to protect their liver from further harm (i.e., hepatotoxic agents); for instance, persons with HCV infection should be advised to avoid drinking alcohol and taking any new medicines, including over-the-counter or herbal medications, without checking with their clinician. In addition, a need for hepatitis A and B vaccination should be determined; persons who are not immune should be vaccinated.

To reduce the risk for transmission to others, persons with HCV infection should be advised not to donate blood, body organs, other tissue, or semen; not to share any personal items that might have blood on them (e.g., toothbrushes or razors); and to cover cuts and sores on the skin to keep the virus from spreading by blood or secretions. Women with HCV infection do not need to avoid pregnancy or breastfeeding, although children born to women with HCV also should be tested for HCV.

Persons who use or inject drugs should be counseled about the importance of prevention and provided access to substance misuse treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, if indicated. Persons who inject drugs should be encouraged to take the following additional steps to reduce personal and public health risks:

  • Never reuse or share syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment.
  • Only use syringes obtained from a reliable source (e.g., a syringe services program or a pharmacy).
  • Use a new, sterile syringe to prepare and inject drugs each time.
  • If possible, use sterile water to prepare drugs; otherwise, use clean water from a reliable source (e.g., fresh tap water).
  • Use a new or disinfected container (i.e., cooker) and a new filter (i.e., cotton) to prepare drugs.
  • Clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab before injection.
  • Safely dispose of syringes after one use.
What puts me at risk for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants prior to the early 1990s. At that time, widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, which has helped ensure a safe blood supply.

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HIV Stigma & Discrimination

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What is HIV stigma?

HIV stigma is negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. It is the prejudice that comes with labeling an individual as part of a group that is believed to be socially unacceptable.

Here are a few examples:

  • Believing that only certain groups of people can get HIV
  • Making moral judgments about people who take steps to prevent HIV transmission
  • Feeling that people deserve to get HIV because of their choices
What is discrimination?

While stigma refers to an attitude or belief, discrimination is the behaviors that result from those attitudes or beliefs. HIV discrimination is the act of treating people living with HIV differently than those without HIV.

Here are a few examples:

  • A health care professional refusing to provide care or services to a person living with HIV
  • Refusing casual contact with someone living with HIV
  • Socially isolating a member of a community because they are HIV positive
  • Referring to people as HIVers or Positives
What are the effects of HIV stigma and discrimination?
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HIV stigma and discrimination affect the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV. People living with HIV often internalize the stigma they experience and begin to develop a negative self-image. They may fear they will be discriminated against or judged negatively if their HIV status is revealed.

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“Internalized stigma” or “self-stigma” happens when a person takes in the negative ideas and stereotypes about people living with HIV and start to apply them to themselves. HIV internalized stigma can lead to feelings of shame, fear of disclosure, isolation, and despair. These feelings can keep people from getting tested and treated for HIV.

What causes HIV stigma?
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HIV stigma is rooted in a fear of HIV. Many of our ideas about HIV come from the HIV images that first appeared in the early 1980s. There are still misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV today.

The lack of information and awareness combined with outdated beliefs leads people to fear getting HIV. Additionally, many people think of HIV as a disease that only certain groups get. This leads to negative value judgments about people who are living with HIV.

What can be done about HIV stigma?
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Talk About HIV

Talking openly about HIV can help normalize the subject. It also provides opportunities to correct misconceptions and help others learn more about HIV. But be mindful of how you talk about HIV and people living with HIV. The Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma language guide can help.

Take Action

We can all help end HIV stigma through our words and actions in our everyday lives. Lead others with your supportive behaviors. Check out the Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma scenarios for tips on what you can do when you witness stigma. You can also make a pledge to stop HIV stigma by downloading a pledge card to customize and post on your website, blog, and social media channel.

Health Tips FAQs

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Benefits of the Fruits: APPLE

“That old saying of ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ might just have been on to something,” says Maggie Michalczyk, RD, founder of Once Upon a Pumpkin, who is based in Chicago.

When overweight, postmenopausal women ate around a cup of dried apples each day for a year, they experienced an almost 6 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol, according to a study published in October 2018 in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal. What’s more, the women’s “good” HDL cholesterol increased by about 10 percent, and they also lost an average of 2.4 percent of their body fat. Another study, published in December 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating two whole apples each day lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in study participants with high cholesterol.

The heart-healthy benefit may stem from the apples’ pectin (a type of fiber) and polyphenols (a group of antioxidants), according to Harvard University.

Other past research has found that apples may also protect against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), possibly due to their high level of flavonoid antioxidants.

“Apples are a good source of many nutrients — notably fiber, which supports heart health and may help with weight loss,” says Malkani. According to the USDA, a medium apple has a whopping 4.4 g of fiber, which is almost 16 percent of your DV, making it a good source. You also score a notable amount of vitamin C — 8.4 mg, according to the USDA, which is 9 percent of your DV.

Obviously, apples make for a great snack, but you can also bake with apples, or even make your own DIY applesauce.

Benefits of the Fruits: AVOCADO

Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Benefits of the Fruit: BANANA

Bananas offer antioxidants, fiber, and many essential nutrients, such as vitamin B6, but what makes them especially interesting is that their nutrient content changes depending on their level of ripeness,” says Malkani. “Underripe bananas contain a lot of resistant starch, which helps reduce appetite and may help stabilize blood sugar levels after meals by slowing the rate of stomach emptying,” Malkani adds, and Johns Hopkins concurs.

One medium banana has over 3 g of fiber, according to the USDA, which is about 11 percent of your DV, making it a good source. Also, bananas are renowned for their potassium — a medium banana has 422 mg of potassium, the USDA notes, which is about 9 percent of your DV. You’ll also get over 10 mg of vitamin C, which is more than 11 percent of your DV, making bananas a good source. You’ll score 0.4 mg of vitamin B6, too, helping support your immune system and metabolism, according to the according to NIH.

Benefits of the Fruits: BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries can help keep you healthy in more ways than one. According to a previous study, a compound called pterostilbene worked with vitamin D in cells to boost the immune system and fight off infections. However, this research is preliminary and it is unclear if the same effect would be seen in humans.

This fruit may also keep your mind sharp — past research has linked blueberries to improving memory and learning, thanks in part to the anti-inflammatory effects of anthocyanin — the antioxidants that give the fruit its bright purple hue. Another study published in February 2017 in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience showed that when older adults with early stages of cognitive decline took blueberry supplements, they experienced neurocognitive benefits.

Last but not least, research published in May 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 1 cup of blueberries each day lowered the odds of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 15 percent. Now that’s a reason to stock up!

“In addition to the health benefits of blueberries, they shouldn’t be overlooked because they taste great and are very versatile in the kitchen,” says Levinson. “Whether you throw some on top of cereal or yogurt for breakfast, add them to a salad for lunch, turn them into sauces and dressings, use them to make mocktails and cocktails, or use them to make dessert, there are endless ways to enjoy blueberries!”

Benefits of the Fruits: CRANBERRIES

Antioxidants called proanthocyanidins in cranberries can help halt the activity of bacteria that cause dental cavities, supporting regular dental hygiene habits, according to a past review. To reap this potential perk, opt for the whole fruit, not the jellied variety, which contains a whopping 23 g of sugar per ¼ cup, according to the USDAAccording to the American Dental Association, too much sticky, sugary food can actually cause cavities — and that’s nothing to grin about.

Best fruit for Healthy Teeth

To enjoy fresh, whole cranberries, try simmering up your own subtly sweet relish instead or toss a handful in your sparkling water, then eat them afterward.

Fresh cranberries come with almost 4 g of fiber per cup when chopped, according to the USDA, for 14 percent of your DV, making them a good source. The same serving has only 5 g of sugar. Plus, you score over 15 mg of vitamin C in each cup, which is 17 percent of your DV, making it another good source.

Benefits of the Fruits: DRIED PRUNES

“People may think prunes are food for the elderly or only worth eating for digestive health, but they are wrong,” says Levinson. “There are lots of great reasons to eat prunes or dried plums.”

For one, they’re bone-friendly. When postmenopausal women ate about five to six dried plums a day for six months, they maintained higher bone mineral density compared to a control group, according to a study published in July 2016 in Osteoporosis International. And in a past study, adult and elderly mice that were fed a diet containing dried plums not only experienced a drop in loss of bone density, they actually gained bone mass. Researchers say dried plums may have an effect on hormones that prevent bone breakdown due to a dip in estrogen levels.

“Prunes provide a natural sweetness, and add moisture and richness to desserts and baked goods, allowing you to reduce the amount of butter, sugar, and oil you would otherwise use,” says Levinson. “They also pair well with a variety of other flavors and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.”

A ½-cup serving of dried, pitted prunes has over 6 g of fiber, according to the USDA, which is over 21 percent of your DV, making them an excellent source, according to Harvard, fiber-filled foods may help lower cholesterol.

Meanwhile, prunes’ potassium (635 mg per ½ cup of pitted prunes) provides almost 14 percent of the DV, making them a good source. The American Heart Association notes that getting enough potassium in your diet can help you manage high blood pressure. Potassium also helps with kidney and muscle function, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Benefits of the Fruit: GRAPES

Grapes Are Inflammation Squelchers, Helping Ward Off Disease
Eating polyphenol-rich grapes can reduce inflammation that contributes to a variety of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure suggests past animal researchHarvard notes too that long-term, chronic inflammation is associated with conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.

The fruits may fight inflammation in several ways, including acting as an antioxidant, reducing cell oxidative stress, and blocking pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines, notes a review published in January 2020 in the journal Antioxidants.

According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants are compounds found in plants including grapes that help your body fight free radicals, which are molecules your body accumulates when exposed to harmful substances such as tobacco smoke and radiation. If you have too many of these free radicals, it can cause oxidative stress, per the Mayo Clinic, which is connected to various diseases like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Even for helping protect against everyday ailments like the common cold, red grapes may help. Similar to blueberries, red grapes contain the compound resveratrol, according to past research. This compound is an immune system supporter, but it has also been linked in large doses to heart health and prevention of certain types of cancers.

Benefits of the Fruit: GRAPEFRUITS

One reason for grapefruit’s potential health perks? It contains a compound called naringenin that’s also found in other citrus fruits, and according to a review published in March 2019 in the journal Pharmaceuticals, it may provide anti-inflammatory benefits, and help protect against developing cardiovascular disease. This compound may also help prevent kidney cysts, according to preliminary past in vitro and animal research.

Another plus: A prior study in the journal Stroke found that eating citrus foods like grapefruit may lower a person’s risk for having an ischemic stroke, which happens when a vessel supplying blood to the brain gets a blockage, according to the American Stroke Association.

Benefits of the Fruits: KIWI

Kiwis are high in Vitamin C and dietary fiber and provide a variety of health benefits. It supports heart health, digestive health, and immunity. A healthy choice of fruit and is rich in vitamins and antioxidants

Benefits of the Fruits: LEMON

Lemons contain a high amount of vitamin C, soluble fiber, and plant compounds that give them a number of health benefitsLemons may aid in weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive issues, and cancer.

Benefits of the Fruit: ORANGES

Oranges are a type of low-calorie, highly nutritious citrus fruit. As part of a healthful and varied diet, oranges contribute to strong, clear skin and can help lower a person’s risk of many conditions.

Oranges are popular due to their natural sweetness, the many different types available, and the diversity of uses. For example, a person can consume them in juices and marmalades, eat them whole, or use zested peel to add a tangy flavor to cakes and desserts. This popular citrus fruit is particularly known for its vitamin C content. However, oranges contain a range of other plant compounds and antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and work against disease.

Benefits: The nutrients in oranges offer a range of health benefits. The sections below discuss these benefits in more detail.


As an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, oranges may help combat the formation of free radicals that cause cancer.

Although an adequate vitamin C intake is necessary and very beneficial, the amount a person would need for the desired therapeutic effect on cancer is more than they could realistically consume. A daily regimen of eating oranges and/or drinking orange juice will help in fighting off any disease.

Benefits of the Fruit: PEAR

You’ll see pears stocked in the produce aisle at your grocery store, but before you pass them by, it’s time to pick a few up. It might be an especially good idea if your digestion is out of whack.

That’s because pears come full of fiber. For example, one medium pear is packed with over 5.5 g of fiber, according to the USDA, which is 20 percent of your DV, making it an excellent source. And why that matters: Dietary fiber (the kind you consume through food) impacts your gut’s ecosystem, according to a review published in June 2018 in the journal Cell Host Microbe.

Also, as the Mayo Clinic notes, fiber helps your digestive system function properly, and pears are one of the top fruit sources of this nutrient. Add pears to your next salad, yogurt bowl, or even simply bake a pear with cinnamon on top. Delicious!

Just know that all fruit (and vegetables) are a good choice when it comes to your gut — and your health. “Americans don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables as it is, so any and all consumption of fruit — no matter what kind it is — is beneficial,” says Levinson

Benefits of the Fruit: PINEAPPLE

Pineapples help shorten viral and bacterial infections and strengthen your bones. There’s also some evidence that pineapple may help prevent cancer and help fertility by improving the quality of sperm.

Benefits of the Fruits: STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries are a juicy, red fruit with high water content. The seeds provide plenty of dietary fiber per serving. Strawberries contain many healthful vitamins and minerals. They contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that can help boost heart health. The fiber and potassium in strawberries can also support a healthy heart.

Benefits of the Fruit: TANGERINE

A flavonoid in this citrus fruit may help protect the body against the group of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, which includes high fasting blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure, according to previous animal research. When researchers fed mice a typical “western” diet high in saturated fat, sodium, added sugar, and refined carbohydrates that was supplemented with the tangerine antioxidant nobiletin, the mice experienced no increase in cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, or blood sugar, but mice who didn’t get the nobiletin did see a rise.

Other past animal research has found that the compound may prevent atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries that can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, the Mayo Clinic explains.

Interestingly, tangerine peels may play a role in helping to prevent certain types of cancer. A compound in the peel called salvestrol Q40 halts the activity of an enzyme that incites the growth of cancer cells, past research has found. Try some tangerine zest in your tea or sprinkled on a salad for a citrusy twist.

One medium-sized tangerine has 1.6 g of fiber, according to the USDA, providing you with nearly 6 percent of your DV, plus over 23 mg of vitamin C, which is 26 percent of your DV, making it an excellent source.

Benefits of : WATER

Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Our body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. Keep your whole body in check, drink water, and get regularly hydrated.

Benefits of the Fruit: WATERMELON

Low in calories, can help fight dehydration (thanks to its 90% water content), it is rich in fiber, and can detoxify your body. They are rich in Vitamin A, lycopene, iron, and calcium and thus good for your skin and hair, can lower the risk of heart disease, boost digestion and prevent inflammation.

Credit References:

  • USDA
  • Medical News
  • National Institute of Health

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