Why Sexually transmitted infections your business
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A CASUAL sexual encounter can have far reaching consequences if you were to acquire a sexually transmitted disease and leave it untreated. The Washington Post and CDC published that 50 per cent of persons who contracted a STD (sexually transmitted disease) interchangeably referred to as STI (sexually transmitted infections) are college students ages 15-24 years. Why STI is your business may not be immediately obvious at that age. But later in life, when health challenges such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, genital warts, genital and cervical cancer show up, then you may or may not reflect on that sexual partner who would have, either knowingly or unknowingly, been the source of your problem.

Best ways to prevent STI are abstinence, monogamous relationships with no pre-historic infection or the barrier method using either the male or female condom (which is not 100 per cent full proof). In the case of HPV (the most common STD), there has been a break though vaccine for girls and boys ages 9-26 years before their first sexual encounter with a protective period of five years. If only parents can fast forward life’s challenges to see what pain and suffering they can alleviate for their children by proactively protecting them, then there will not be so much resistance to the HPV vaccine.

STD refers to any infection due to either a virus, bacteria or a parasite spread from one person to another through sexual contact. The treatable bacterial STDs are gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomonas, whilst the incurable viral STI are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B Virus.

Points to highlight are that STDs are on the rise, more women than men are affected due to their anatomy, a condom does not protect you from all STDs 100 per cent of the time and not all STDs show symptoms. Specific focus today are on gonorrhoea, syphilis and herpes.

Syphilis is a chronic systemic infection which can progress in three stages; primary, secondary and tertiary syphilis. The method of transmission is via sexual contact with an infective lesion. It takes about 21 days on average to be incubated and is presented in a single usually raised firm and painless ulcer at the site of the inoculation. This chancre is usually found on the external of the genitals or the anus. In the secondary stage, about 1-2 months later, it can progress to the trunk of the body or the extremities like the palms, soles of the feet, face and scalp where there are red or pink-like boils which do not itch. The tertiary stage may be presented in five to 10 years after the primary infection, where it can affect the central nervous system. This occurs in about five per cent of patients. It may cause changes in personality, affect intellect, orientation and impair judgement, ability to calculate and analytical insight.

Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted infection and the method of transmission is via genital, anal-genital and oral-genital contact. It is more common in sexually active males. It grows on the mucus membranes and is usually detected by a lot of yellow pus discharged, at the urethra (penis area), cervix (vaginal region), or the anus (anal discharge which can also be bloody too) or throat infections, also referred to as pharyngeal infections, which can usually be without any symptoms but also manifest as exudative tonsillitis. It takes about 3-5 days to grow and spread upwards, especially in females, and, in some 15 per cent of cases, may infect the fallopian tubes, cause scarring and later on sterility in women. Diagnosis is made via a laboratory test called a gram stain using the urethral discharge in men or a culture and sensitivity test of the cervix in women.

Genital herpes differentiated as types 1 and 2 (the latter is more common) can be diagnosed by culture and serologic (blood sample) testing since the herpes simplex virus can be found in the DNA. Before the skin lesions appear on the genital area, sometimes thighs and buttocks, the preceding symptoms usually include pain, tingling sensation and itching. Later the ulcer and crusting stages set in.

Treatment for all STI is usually prescribed by a doctor after screening with either the home self-test kits or lab tests (blood, urine and or swabs) to confirm type or organism and what drug is resistant to it. Depending on the stage, severity of the infection or classification whether complicated or uncomplicated, the appropriate antibacterials (either antibiotics or antivirals) are selected if the causative organism is a bacteria or virus. Utmost importance is not to use an antibiotic that is resistant to the micro-organism since you will make treatment options a nightmare for both the prescriber and the patient. Such medications usually have a specific duration of treatment and dosage to which you must adhere for effective treatment. However be reminded that, unlike bacteria, viruses are not completely eradicated from the body. The viral loads are just suppressed with treatment but will still be present in the body and can flare up from time to time depending on the immunity level of the person.

Poor compliance to the treatment can lead to recurrence of infection and re-infecting your partner. It is usually desirable to do a contact tracing so that all persons (all partners) who may be exposed at different times can get a chance for treatment. Otherwise they can continue to spread these infections unknowingly since some persons may be asymptomatic (not presenting with the typical symptoms).

In conclusion, careful consideration when choosing your sexual partner is highly recommended even more important than your many life choices such as university, job, career and even nutritional options. The lifestyle choices for both yourself and your partner will eventually become your business one of these days.

For further advice consult the pharmacist at Medicine Express PHARMACY located at 223 Camp Street, between Lamaha and New Market Streets. If you have any queries, comments or further information on the above topic kindly forward them to medicine.express@gmail.com or send them to 223 Camp Street, N/burg. Tel #225-5142.

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