First of all, remember that some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cause no symptoms, and when symptoms do occur, they often go unrecognized. Most people with STDs have no symptoms—none! So you can be infected and even infect someone else without knowing it. However, there are some common signs to watch for. The symptoms listed below are tricky, as they can show up anywhere from two days to a couple of months after initial exposure to the disease. Sometimes symptoms can show up as much as several years after the initial STD infection. If you have any of these symptoms or think you have been exposed to an STD, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

  • STIs (sexually transmitted infections) or more commonly known as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are often divided into several categories, bacterial, viral and parasitic, depending on the nature of the infection.
  • Bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria. They include gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. All of which are generally curable with antibiotics.
  • Viral STIs are not curable. They include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, genital warts), herpes, and hepatitis B. While there are treatments to relieve symptoms, these infections are not curable
  • Parasitic STIs are caused by other organisms (crabs/pubic lice and scabies). These STIs are curable with antibiotics or topical creams/lotions.

If you think you may have an STI, it is important to get treated as soon as possible. Besides your own private healthcare provider, there are many clinics (including Vista Community Clinic) that offer low or no cost screening and treatment. Click here for clinic sites.

The following links are to pages with more specific information about STIs frequently effecting gay men in San Diego County. They include graphic images of potential symptoms and should be viewed with caution.


Genital Warts



Public Lice (Crabs) and Scabies