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8 STIs you’ve probably never even heard of

By Faeza
25 July 2017

Most of us have at least heard of sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, but there's a lot more lurking beneath the murky surface. We take a look at 8 lesser-known STIs.


STIs are among the most common diseases in the world, and according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre there are more than 20 types of sexually transmitted diseases.

It’s impossible to determine how many people worldwide have STIs, but it is estimated that more than 13 million Americans are affected every year.

Most of us are familiar with HIV/Aids and diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, but these are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many others we’ve never even heard of.

Here are eight lesser-known sexually transmitted diseases:

Infectious mononucleosis

This disease, also known as “mono”, is commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. In children mono mostly causes no symptoms, but in young adults it can cause sore throat, fever, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, and extreme fatigue. The condition lasts up to four weeks, but tiredness may continue for months.

Infectious mononucleosis is mainly spread by saliva, hence the name “kissing disease”. There is no vaccine for the disease and it generally gets better on its own.

Lymphogranuloma venereum

The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis usually cause chlamydia, but they can also cause a completely separate STD called lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). LGV is most common in tropical regions and is basically an infection of lymph nodes and lymphatics around the genital and anal area.

Patients may have tender lymph nodes in the groin, preceded by a genital ulcer. Patients with HIV may have rectal or anal inflammation with pain around the area.

Diagnosis is made by means of a blood test. GV is normally treated with a three-week course of antibiotics (doxycycline).


Cytomegalovirus is related to the herpes virus and once you’re infected, you cannot get rid of it. If you’re physically healthy, the virus tends to remain dormant in your body and you’ll be symptom free. However, when it becomes active it can be passed on to others.

The virus is transmitted by body fluids like blood, semen and vaginal fluids.

People who have the virus and are immunocompromised present with symptoms similar to infectious mononucleosis (fatigue, fever and muscle aches). CMV may also target individual organs and symptoms and can include: diarrhoea, hepatitis, seizures, coma, visual impairment, pneumonia and ulcers in the digestive tract.


Chancroid is a bacterial STI involving sores on the genitalia. It starts off as small bumps that can quickly grow into large ulcers. It is caused by the streptobacillus Haemophilus ducreyi which enters the skin through microabrasions caused during sexual intercourse.

The main chancroid symptoms are painful sex or bleeding during intercourse and swollen lymph nodes in the groin area and below the navel.

Chancroid is treated by a week-long course of antibiotics.

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection presenting as benign bumps or lesion anywhere on the body. These raised lesions are painless and disappear of their own accord without any scarring. It can take anything from a few months to four for the bumps to disappear. Treatment is therefore usually not necessary.

The condition is spread by contact with a lesion on another person or by touching a contaminated object like clothing or a towel.