Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), once called venereal diseases, represent a heterogeneous set of infectious diseases. They include viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, with sexual transmission as a common denominator. Their frequency has grown considerably in recent years. STDs pose an important health problem due to their severity, potential for chronic forms, and significant damage to the patient’s health. Additionally, they incur considerable health costs for both diagnosis and treatment, especially tests for chronic viral HPV, hepatitis, HIV infections, and AIDS.

Furthermore, they can cause consequences on fertility and the product of conception (unborn child), and some, those caused by Papillomavirus (HPV), have a fundamental role in the onset of cervical cancer. The notable frequency of forms with few symptoms makes these diseases more insidious, often delaying their diagnosis. They are particularly frequent in young people.

WHO and other health organisations prioritise the control of STDs. The strategy adopted is based, above all, on prevention. It focuses on promoting responsible sexual behaviour, including information dissemination and attention to occasional sexual practices and partners. Additionally, it emphasises the importance of using condoms. This document aims to help individuals make safe choices for their health. It provides information on the main STDs, including methods of transmission, symptoms, and preventive behaviours to adopt for protection.

In any case, if you suspect an STD, you should always consult your test doctor.

Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?

The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) causes Hepatitis B infection; it can manifest as the acute form, which is often asymptomatic. Diagnosis commonly occurs during the chronic phase, either based on specific symptoms or occasionally.

How is it transmitted?

The HPV virus is present in the blood and various biological fluids. Transmission occurs through contagion from subjects suffering from acute or chronic disease or healthy carriers. This happens through unprotected sexual intercourse, the exchange of syringes between drug addicts, and accidental punctures with infected instruments. Additionally, transmission can occur accidentally through the shared use of razors or toothbrushes. Moreover, it can happen through non-sterile instruments for piercing or tattooing. Finally, transmission can occur from mother to fetus or newborn, either in utero, at the time of birth, or through breastfeeding.


The infection can appear after 45-180 days.

Symptoms and signs

Acute hepatitis B is asymptomatic in most cases. In those in whom the disease occurs, the onset is insidious, with vague abdominal disorders, asthenia, nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever; jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin and mucous membranes); the presence of dark urine and light stools is often present. Acute hepatitis almost always recovers. Other times, it rarely evolves into the fulminant form (death due to liver failure) or the chronic form in approximately 5-10% of cases. This phase is often asymptomatic and can remain stable for many years. In 10%, it can progress over about 10 years to liver cirrhosis, which seriously alters both the structure and function of the liver and is most often lethal. A frequent and even more serious complication is liver cancer (hepatocarcinoma).


The hepatitis B vaccine is available (mandatory in Italy for all newborns). Using a condom during sexual intercourse and handling tools, needles, and other potentially infected objects with maximum precaution are recommended. Vaccination is strongly recommended for population groups at the highest risk of infection, such as drug addicts, cohabitants of chronic carriers, healthcare workers, homosexuals, etc.


If HPV symptoms appear, it is necessary to immediately undergo medical check-ups and blood tests, check liver function, and carry out specific serological tests. If you have engaged in risky sexual behaviour, it is important to get tested for hepatitis B.


Acute phase therapy is usually symptomatic (as for hepatitis A). Instead, treating chronic forms has evolved in recent years with tests and various HPV drugs that usually manage to block viral replication and, therefore, “freeze” the disease, preventing its evolution towards more serious forms. However, eradicating the virus is rare. In cases of cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, doctors typically prescribe the same drugs, but extreme cases may necessitate a liver transplant.