Let's Talk About Safe Sex

By: RSC Editorial Team

February 7, 2023

What STDs Are Permanent and Cannot Be Cured?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes, are widespread in the U.S. CDC data from 2018 found that one in five people had STDs that year, with a total of 68 million infections. Infections haven’t been slowing down since then, so it’s no surprise that people are wondering what STDs are permanent and what ones have a cure.

Fortunately, most STDs have a cure, and those that don’t are highly treatable. In this article, we highlight the STDs that are curable versus those that are incurable, including information on managing and treating long-term STDs.

Are All STDs Permanent?

There’s a simple way to determine what STDs are permanent and which are curable. The answer lies in this question: what do all incurable STIs have in common?

The answer is that all incurable STIs result from viruses. Viral STIs are incurable because drugs aren’t effective against viruses, while STIs caused by bacteria, parasites, or yeast are curable with medication. However, curable STDs can still cause significant harm, especially without prompt treatment.

At the same time, even an STD that’s not curable is manageable with medical intervention. No matter what type of STD you have, the most important factor is working with your health care provider to treat infections. Keep in mind that having no symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have an STD.

Curable STDs

The most common curable STDs are:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Syphilis

You can fight off these STDs by following the medication regimen your health care provider gives you, which typically involves antibiotics. Since these STDs can still do severe damage, you shouldn’t treat them lightly just because they have a cure. 

Incurable STDs

Some STIs remain with the infected person for life, and the only option is to manage the symptoms with specific treatments, such as antiviral drugs. The following STDs are incurable:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Herpes

Generally, your body’s immune system can get rid of HPV or hepatitis B on its own. However, if you have chronic hepatitis B or a severe HPV infection, you will require treatment.

The fact that some STDs never go away is distressing to think about when you consider how easily you can become infected during sexual activity. The high infectivity rates are partly because many sexually active people with STDs don’t have symptoms and don’t bother to take precautions with their sexual partners.

For that reason, it’s vital to get periodic STD tests to ensure you aren’t infecting others and hurting your own health by leaving infections untreated. You can get same-day STD testing by ordering tests online or visiting a nearby clinic, giving you peace of mind without the long wait.

Long-term Effects of STDs

The negative social stigma around catching STDs often leads to people being too embarrassed to seek medical treatment. However, ignoring STDs can have severe consequences for both men and women. Without immediate medical intervention, STDs can lead to devastating health issues that could last a lifetime.

Health Complications from STDs

Possible health complications from an untreated STD include:

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Chronic pain
  • Liver disease
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Birth defects
  • Blindness
  • Cervical cancer

HPV, an STD so prevalent that almost all sexually active women and men get it at some point in their lives, is one of the leading causes of various types of cancer, including cervical, anal, vaginal, and penile cancers. Other STDs, like syphilis, herpes, and gonorrhea, can increase your risk of contracting HIV, a life-long disease that can lead to AIDS. 

Additionally, mothers can transmit a bacterial infection like syphilis to infants during pregnancy or childbirth, leading to complications like stillbirth, premature birth, pneumonia, sepsis, and congenital deformities. Women with untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea infections might develop PID, which causes damage to fallopian tubes, leading to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic pain.

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is an incurable STD that spreads through bodily fluids, typically during sexual contact or from sharing needles. Without treatment, HIV can develop into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS hurts your body’s immune function, making you vulnerable to other infections that can become life-threatening.

While STDs can cause severe long-term complications, curable and incurable infections are manageable with proper medical treatment.

How to Manage Incurable STDs

While finding out you have an incurable STD can be scary, it doesn’t mean your life is over. Despite not having a cure, you can manage these sexually transmitted diseases with specific treatments and medication, lessening the frequency and severity of the symptoms. 

By getting frequent STD tests while you’re sexually active, you can discover infections quickly, reducing your chances of developing severe symptoms or long-term complications. With the help of your doctor, you can live a long, fulfilling life despite having an STD that never goes away. Many people rarely or never experience symptoms, especially with appropriate medication.

When you have an incurable sexually transmitted disease, you can reduce the risk of spreading it to sexual partners by following safe practices. One of the best precautions is wearing male or female condoms, providing a barrier between potentially infectious fluids and your partner’s skin. Even with protection, your partner should get regular STD check-ups.

Another crucial factor in managing incurable STDs is opening up to others, including friends, family, or support groups. Having people to lean on after your diagnosis and during treatment can make the journey less stressful and remind you that you’re not alone in your experiences with STDs.

To stay on top of your sexual health, you can order a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing or visit one of our local testing sites. With the right support and habits, you don't have to let an incurable STD hold you back from living your best life.

Treatment for Incurable STDs

Below are the available treatments for the four viral sexually transmitted diseases: HIV, herpes, HPV, and hepatitis B.

HIV

In the US, about 1.2 million people have HIV, which can develop into AIDS without treatment, leading to a severely weakened immune system. However, people with HIV can receive antiretroviral therapy (ART), a daily regimen of prescription medication, to do the following: 

  • Prevent AIDS
  • Decrease viral load
  • Relieve symptoms
  • Reduce chances of infecting others

While ART doesn’t cure HIV, it allows individuals with the disease to live longer and healthier lives. Treatment is essential for minimizing symptoms and reducing the viral load to undetectable levels, which makes it so that there’s almost no chance of infecting your partner with HIV.

Herpes

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are two types of viruses that cause genital herpes, and both types of infections are manageable with antiviral medication. Rather than focusing on the symptoms during an outbreak (sores, blisters, etc.), herpes treatment seeks to lessen the impact of the life-long infection.

Medications for herpes prevent outbreaks, reduce symptoms after the initial infection, and decrease the risk of infecting sexual partners. 

HPV

The HPV virus doesn’t have a treatment, but the health problems that it causes do. Genital warts might go away on their own or continue to develop, but your doctor can prescribe medicine to treat them. Since HPV is known to cause certain cancers, getting regular tests for cervical and other HPV-related cancers is a vital part of managing the virus.

Hepatitis B

Acute hepatitis B might not need treatment and will eventually go away on its own. However, chronic hepatitis B requires life-long treatment to manage and prevent complications like cirrhosis and spreading the disease to others. Treatments include:

  • Antiviral medicine
  • Interferon injections
  • Liver transplant

Curable or Not – You Need To Know if You Have an STD

With Rapid STD Testing, you can detect STIs before they lead to severe health complications. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as abdominal pain, unusual discharge, painful urination, or blisters, get a rapid STD test to find out if you need to seek treatment. 

To get a fast, secure, and private STD test, call (866) 872-1888 or visit a Rapid STD Testing clinic near you. We are happy to answer your questions, like what STDs are permanent and what your chances are of an STD coming back after treatment.

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By: RSC Editorial Team
February 7, 2023

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