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  HIV/AIDS & Health > Testing > STI Chart

Geffen Testing Center's HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C Information Sheet


  HIV Syphilis Hepatitis C (HCV)

What is it?

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and may eventually lead to AIDS. It can cause immune failure and possibly death.

Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called treponema pallidum. It can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs, loss of coordination, dementia and possibly death.

HCV is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It can cause liver cell damage, leading to cirrhosis, cancer and possibly death.

Window period

Up to 3 months.

If infected, MOST will have a reactive HIV EIA test at 4-6 weeks after infection.

Up to 4 months.

If infected, MOST will have a reactive RPR test at 4 1/2 weeks after infection.

Up to 9 weeks.

If infected, MOST will have a reactive HCV EIA antibody test at 40 days after infection.

What is the fluid of transmission?



Vaginal fluid

Breast milk (infants)

The fluid found within a syphilis sore (lesion or chancre).

This fluid contains the corkscrew shaped bacteria treponema pallidum.



Vaginal fluid

(Note- semen and vaginal fluid are considered much less effective at transmitting the virus.)

How is it primarily transmitted?

Unprotected anal and vaginal sex.

Sharing contaminated needles.


Much less effective through unprotected oral sex.

Unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex.


Much less effective through kissing mouth-to-mouth.

Contact with infected blood, contaminated IV needles, razors and tattoo or body-piercing tools.


Much less effective through sexual contact, becomes more effective in relation to number of partners one has.


May have none.

Sero-conversion may be flu-like including fever, diarrhea, muscle aches, swollen glands, night sweats, fatigue.

Long term symptoms vary from person to person.

Incubation stage- none.

Primary stage- may have none. Usually a single sore at the site of infection.

Secondary stage- may have none. Rash that does not itch on one or more areas of the skin - often located on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

May have none.

Some persons have mild flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue and fever.

Treatment of infection

Not curable.

Many combinations of options for treatment are currently available. Many people on treatment are able to tolerate the medication.


Penicillin- usually one shot if diagnosed within first year. Larger doses are needed if infection is 1 or more years old.

Other antibiotics are available for people allergic to penicillin.

Curable in up to 40% of those treated.

Interferon, a combination of Interferon with Ribavirin, or Pegalated Interferon in combination with Ribavirin.

Combination therapy is the treatment of choice.





Who is at risk?

Anyone who engages in anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

IDU's who share contaminated needles.

Infants born to infected mothers.

Anyone who engages in anal, vaginal, oral sex, or kissing.

Higher rates currently found among MSM�s.

Blood transfusion recipients before 1992, IDU's who share contaminated needles, hemodialysis patients, infants born to infected mothers, people with multiple sex partners, and healthcare workers.


Safer sex.

Do not share infected needles. Clean spilled blood w/approved blood cleaning product or bleach. Wear gloves when touching blood.

Safer sex.

Do not share contaminated needles, razors or toothbrushes.

Safer sex.

Clean up spilled blood with approved blood cleaning product or bleach. Wear gloves when touching blood.

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Press and media: Lynn Schulman, lynns@gmhc.org

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