For Persons Who Have Been Sexually Assaulted:
Information You Should Know About Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections
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On this page:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections (STDs/STIs)
Risk of Getting an STD/STI from Sexual Assault
STD/STI Signs and Symptoms
STD/STI Testing and Treatment After Assault
Preventing STD/STI Transmission to Sexual Partners
HIV/AIDS and Sexual Assault
Selected STD/STI Testing and Treatment Clinics
For More Information
People who have been sexually assaulted often have concerns and questions about many subjects. This brochure is intended to provide you with information about sexually transmitted diseases/infections or “STDs/STIs”.
If you do not understand this information, or would like additional information, ask your physician or health care provider to assist you.
You can get an STD/STI through vaginal, oral or rectal sexual contact with someone who is infected. The most common bacterial STDs/STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. The most serious viral STDs/STIs are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS), hepatitis B, genital herpes, and genital warts.
Some of these STDs/STIs can cause serious complications. For example, untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can damage the reproductive organs, leading to miscarriage or infertility in women and sterility in men. Some viral STDs/STIs like HIV infection can lead to serious life threatening conditions. Certain STDs/STIs can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child.
The STDs/STIs that are diagnosed most frequently after sexual assault include gonorrhea or chlamydia. The risk of acquiring gonorrhea or chlamydia from sexual assault is low. The chances of acquiring syphilis or genital herpes are even lower. The risk of becoming infected with HIV is extremely low, and even lower if only oral sex was involved with the assault.
If an STD/STI is diagnosed after a sexual assault, it does not always mean that the infection was acquired during the assault. However, a post-assault examination provides an important opportunity to identify and treat undetected STDs. For example, a person may have an STD/STI (without knowing it) before being sexually assaulted. This could be the case when infected with chlamydia as about 3 out of 4 women and 1 out of 2 men will not have symptoms. Early treatment can prevent lasting harm.
Some STDs/STIs cause symptoms such as itching, pain, discharge, bleeding, genital sores, or lower abdominal pain. These symptoms may develop days, weeks, or even longer after a person becomes infected. But you can’t depend on these symptoms to know if you are infected. Many people with an STD/STI will not have any symptoms. Therefore, it is very important that you see a physician for an examination and STD/STI tests to find out if you have been infected after a sexual assault, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
After being sexually assaulted it is important that you get a sexual assault evidentiary examination as soon as possible. If you seek medical care within 72 hours of the assault, the physician who sees you may give you medications for certain STDs/STIs in case you were exposed to the diseases during the assault. Because these medications are not 100% effective in preventing disease, it is still important that you are aware of what to look for and return to your physician in two or three weeks to assure that you have been effectively treated. For HIV risk, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of antiretroviral drugs may be offered if the assault took place within 72 hours of your medical evaluation.
If you do not have a physician, there are several public health clinics listed below that can provide confidential testing for HIV and other STDs/STIs for victims of sexual assault, or anyone else who may have an infection.
Safe, effective treatment is available to cure gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Antibiotic treatment usually is based on the results of STD/STI tests. However, your physician may decide to treat you while waiting for the test results.
You can spread an STD/STI to your own partner if you were infected during a sexual assault. Therefore, we recommend that you do not have sex until after you have had follow-up tests two to three weeks after the assault and you have received the results.
If you do have oral, anal, or vaginal sex, it is important to use latex condoms or other barrier methods. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV. In addition, correct use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other STDs.
It is not easy to get HIV infection. The risk of becoming infected from a single sexual contact is very small. Penetration of the vagina or anus by a penis, or contact with blood, is the most likely way HIV would be transmitted during a sexual assault. There is a lower, but not zero, risk of transmission from oral sex.
HIV infection is diagnosed by a blood test. Immediately after a sexual assault, contact a physician and get tested. The physician will repeat the test at different intervals up to six (6) months. If the test is still negative after six (6) months, you can be assured that you do not have HIV infection.
Minnesota Law (Minnesota Statute 611A.19) allows the court to require HIV antibody testing after conviction of an offender. A sexual assault victim can request that a convicted offender be tested. Because conviction--if it occurs at all--does not take place immediately, testing the offender may not occur until months after the possible exposure. Therefore, finding out information about the individual who sexually assaulted you is not the best way of determining whether you are infected. The nature of the assault, the stage of any disease, your own immunity, and other factors make your own test result more important than the test results of an offender.
Discussing your concerns with your local sexual assault program may be helpful:
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Suite 1001
St. Paul, MN 55103
1-800-964-8847 toll free
The following clinics provide confidential counseling and testing for HIV and other STDs. Clinic staff are trained to answer questions about HIV and STDs/STIs and to provide medical and mental health referrals to knowledgeable and concerned providers.
Red Door Services
of the Hennepin County Public Health Clinic
(formerly the Red Door Clinic)
525 Portland Avenue S., Minneapolis MN 55415
(612) 348-4729 TTY
Clinic 555 Sexual Health Services
St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health
555 Cedar Street, St. Paul MN 55101
There are many other HIV and STD/STI testing sites throughout Minnesota. There isn't enough room to list each site individually here. Contact MAP AIDSLine for HIV testing sites and the Minnesota Family Planning and STD/STI Hotline for STD/STI sites (see below).
Minnesota AIDS Project AIDSLine:
(612) 373-AIDS, (612) 373-2465 TTY
1-800-248-AIDS, 1-888-820-2437 TTY
Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline:
(651) 645-9360 (Metro area)
Attention: Non-MDH link
If you have questions or concerns about STDs, ask your physician, hospital staff, or your local health department. For more information about testing, contact one of the STD/STI clinics listed on the preceding column or other information resources listed below.
If you have special concerns about sexual assault, contact your local sexual assault center. They can provide information, referrals, and support.
Always seek expert medical advice if you believe that you have contracted an STD.
For information about sexually transmitted diseases, contact:
Minnesota Family Planning
and STD Hotline
(Telecommunication devices for the deaf)
(651) 645-9360 (Metro area)
Minnesota AIDS Project - AIDSLine
Metro Area (612)373-AIDS
(612) 373-2465 TTY
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Metro (612) 313-2797
Minnesota Department of Health
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division
STD, HIV and TB Section (651) 201-5414
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Content Notice: This site contains HIV or STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV and other STDs are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this web site.