Written on June 28, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Depending on the sexually transmitted infection or disease, there are different types of treatments and, in some cases, cures. Some types of sexually transmitted infections are wholly resolved with simple treatments; others can be treated to the point where they are undetectable. Even with sexually transmitted diseases that are not curable, you can lead a robust and healthy life.
There are three types of sexually transmitted infections: parasitic infections, bacterial infections, and viral infections.
Bacterial STIs are caused by the presence of foreign bacteria. Examples of common bacterial STIs include gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. Bacterial infections are treated or cured with antibiotics
Viral STIs include human papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts, genital herpes, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Viral infections “are any illness you get from a virus (a small germ that uses your cells to reproduce).” Treatments for viral sexually transmitted infections are dependent on the infection; antivirals and post-exposure prophylaxis are examples.
Parasitic STIs are “caused by a parasite, rather than bacteria or a virus. A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism (in this case, a human body) and gets its food from or at the expense of its host.” Trichomoniasis and pubic lice are both parasitic sexually transmitted infections.
Antibiotic options include medications like azithromycin, doxycycline, ceftriaxone, or penicillin.
Examples of antiviral drugs are acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs for HIV. There are also drugs that prevent HIV, which are called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP “can reduce your chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV.” PEP is a “medicine to prevent HIV after a possible exposure. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV.”
Medications such as permethrin or metronidazole are commonly prescribed for parasitic infections. For pubic lice, “A lice-killing lotion containing 1% permethrin or a mousse containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide can be used to treat pubic (“crab”) lice. These products are available over-the-counter without a prescription at a local drug store or pharmacy.” Another prescription medication is lindane shampoo and ivermectin. “Both topical and oral ivermectin have been used successfully to treat lice; however, only topical ivermectin lotion currently is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of lice. Oral ivermectin is not FDA-approved for treatment of lice.”
Antifungal medications that can be prescribed include fluconazole or topical antifungal creams.
There are multiple immunizations that protect against infections like HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B, and “Other vaccines are under development, including those for HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV).”
There are a few factors that influence the cost of your treatment, including but not limited to your insurance coverage, your prescriber, geographic location, and the treatment you are paying for.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one decisive answer to this question, but the figures below may give you a better idea of what treatment could cost without insurance. Please do not assume these figures are the end-all and be-all – you may qualify for reduced cost or free services depending on the circumstance.
One source estimates that the range for testing without insurance on average ranges from $29 to $399. With Everlywell, STD consults cost $69. Many clinics offer free testing. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) GetTested site, which has a database of sites that have free and low-cost testing.
Medication costs vary greatly depending on what pharmacy you buy them from, the brand name, and the quantity. To minimize costs, ask for the general prescription rather than the name-brand medication and look online to see where you can buy the prescription for a lower cost.
Everlywell offers at-home testing kits so you can privately test for STDs in the comfort of your own home. The following tests are available for you to order online:
If you aren’t sure or have questions about getting tested or your test results, you can make an STD telehealth appointment via Everlywell.