Less common STI symptoms
There are a number of less common STIs such as HIV and Hepatitis B, which can also cause symptoms.
Hepatitis B is a virus which attacks the liver, which is passed via sexual contact and blood (i.e. through needles). 95% of people who are infected will be able to fight off the virus themselves but some patients develop chronic infection and liver dysfunction. Symptoms of Hepatitis B include:
- headache, muscle ache, stomach ache
- loss of appetite
- upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhoea
- dark urine and pale stools
- yellowing of the skin and eyes
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks your immune system. It is transmitted through sex, sharing needles or from a pregnant woman to her child. The final stage (AIDS) is when your body’s immune system has been fully broken down by the virus and you are left vulnerable to any passing infection.
Over 8,000 people are living HIV-positive in the UK with around 30% of those living unaware of their condition. The symptoms of HIV can be difficult to detect because they feel a lot like the flu. Roughly 50% of people with HIV will have symptoms 3-6 weeks after becoming infected. These include:
- fever, night sweats
- upset stomach, diarrhoea and vomiting
- headache, muscle ache
- weight loss
These symptoms may be present for months or years before the onset of AIDS, and many people will have no symptoms at all for 10 years after infection. You should have regular HIV tests if you have had unprotected sex with someone who may have it or have shared needles.
Like Hepatitis B, there is currently no cure for HIV. However, the spread of the virus can be slowed considerably with early treatment. Preventative medicines (such as PReP) have also been used in the USA since 2012, and are being trialled in the UK at the moment. To prevent infection from Hepatitis B or HIV, you should avoid sharing needles or having unprotected sex.