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Sexually transmitted infections

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) usually pass from one person to another through sexual contact. Most are fairly common, and effective treatment is available especially in the early stages. Some STIs are benign, but others can lead to severe complications without treatment. STIs can affect anyone, regardless of the individual’s sexual orientation or hygiene standards. Many STIs can spread through nonpenetrative sexual activity.

In a lay man’s language, these are infections one can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. It is largely referred to as venereal disease. They can also be passed through anal sex or skin to skin contact. STDS are caused by virus or bacteria.

It is a major public health issue and also a major cause of morbidity and mortality in this part of the world.

Causes

Viruses…Hepatitis B Virus, Herpes Simplex Virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Human Papilloma Virus.

Bacteria..Gonorrhea, Syphilis Staphylococcus, Chlamydia.

Fungal…..Yeast, Candida.

Protozoal….. Trichomonia

Symptoms

Men

Pain on urination, fever body aches, unusual symptoms, internal heat, depression, lower abdominal pain penile/urethral discharge warts.

Women

Itching around the vagina, discharge around the vagina, and yellowish, brownish, offensive vaginal discharge. pain during sex, pain in pelvic region, sore throats in people with oral sex, pain in or around the anus, chancre (painless red sores on the genital areas, anus, tongue, and throat, scaly rash on palms of hands, soles or feet, small blisters that turns into scabs in the genital areas, swollen glands, fever body aches, unusual infections, lower abdominal pain. warts around the genital areas.

Complications

Men

Infertility, paralysis, heart damage, blindness, depressed immune system, cancer of penis,

Women

Infertility cancer of the cervix, blocked tubes, abortions, paralysis, mental problems, heart damage.

Laboratory investigations

STDS are diagnosed through an examination by a qualified medical practitioner however laboratory investigations are needed to confirm certain diagnosis.

Women

Vaginal Swab for MCS..detects the organism and the antibiotics sensitivity

Endocervical Swab..detects the organism and the antibiotics sensitivity.

Urine MCS………detects the organism and the antibiotics sensitivity.

Abdominal Scan……detects any damage to the womb or tubes.

HIV test..detects HIV virus

Hepatitis B and C Virus test……..detects Hepatitis B and C virus.

VDRL….test for Syphilis.

Men

Urine mcs ….detects the organism in the urine

Urethral swab for mcs…detects the organism from urethral discharge.

Seminal fluid analysis….detects the organism and sperm count which may be low.

HIV test

Hepatitis B and C virus test

VDRL….test for syphillis

Treatment

A doctor can test for STIs to confirm whether or not an infection is present. He will then prescribe the most appropriate treatment option. Treatment of STDs is complex and it may vary from one day to months and years of treatments depending on the causative organism. Both partners will need to be treated. No sexual intercourse during treatments, in case of sexual intercourse condoms should be used. Treatments will depend on the causative organism.

Treatment for bacterial infections is with antibiotics. However, some STIs — such as gonorrhea — appear to be developing a resistance to the antibiotics that doctors commonly prescribe to treat them. It is essential to complete any type of antibiotic treatment, even if the symptoms disappear. Stopping treatment early may allow remaining bacteria to grow again, and symptoms may return. At this stage, the infection can become harder to treat.

Antiviral drugs

If the causative organism is a virus, the patient will need to be on antiviral drugs like antiretroviral drugs, acyclovir.

HIV…antiretroviral drugs like nevirapine, lamivudine.

Herpes Simplex Virus….Acyclovir is the drug of choice

Hepatitis B and C……Conservative management, Antiviral drugs, interferon.

Antibiotics

If the causative organism is a bacterium, the patient will need to be on antibiotics

Chlamydia infection….. Tetracycline, Doxycycline.

Syphilis……..    the Penicillins, Quinolones, Broad Spectrum Antibiotics.

Gonorrhea….same as in treatments for Syphillis.

Vaccines

Vaccines can help protect a person from HPV and Hepatitis B. People can discuss their situation with a healthcare provider, who will advise about vaccinations.

Dealing with stigma.

Many people find it hard to talk about STIs due to concerns about stigma. However, STIs are a common health concern, and treatments are available that can either cure the infection or help a person manage it. Seeking early treatment will also reduce the risk of complications.

Prevention

Ways to reduce the risk of transmitting or contracting an STI include:

  • Abstinence…the only sure way is by not having sex
  • Have a single sexual partner who is also faithful
  • Use condoms when having sex.
  • Talking to any new partners about protected sex and any past infections
  • Ensuring that both partners undergo testing before starting a new sexual relationship
  • Receiving vaccinations to protect against some infections
  • Taking care when using alcohol or recreational drugs, as these can increase the chance of risky sexual behaviors
  • Urinate after having sexual intercourse.

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