STIs caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasites can be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics are most often given by mouth (orally). However, sometimes they are injected or applied directly to the affected area. Whatever the infection, and regardless of how quickly the symptoms resolve after beginning treatment, the infected person must take all of the medicine prescribed by the health care provider to ensure that the STI is completely treated.
Although treatments, complications, and outcomes vary among viral STIs depending on the particular virus (HIV, genital herpes, human papillomavirus, hepatitis, or cytomegalovirus), health care providers can provide treatments to reduce the symptoms and the progression of most of these illnesses. For example, medications are available to limit the frequency and severity of genital herpes outbreaks while reducing the risk that the virus will be passed on to other people.
Individuals with HIV need to take special antiretroviral drugs that control the amount of virus they carry. These drugs, called highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, can help people live longer, healthier lives. If a woman with HIV becomes pregnant, these medicines also can reduce the chance that her fetus or infant will get the infection.
Being tested and treated for STIs is especially important for pregnant women because some STIs may be passed on to their infants during pregnancy or delivery. Testing women for these STIs early in their pregnancy is important, so that steps can be taken to help ensure delivery of a healthy infant. The necessary treatment will depend on the type of STI involved.