SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS

Sexually Transmitted Infections: What You Need To Know

I have always been a fan of numbers, especially the very complex ones that come with mathematical equations; however, after going through the World Health Organization (WHO) article on statistics of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a bolt of chills shot through my nerves. 

The facts are that;

  • More than 1 million STIs are acquired everyday worldwide.
  • 376 million new infections estimated to be either one of chlamydia, gonorrhoea syphilis and trichomoniasis occur yearly.
  • More than 500 million people are estimated to have herpes simplex virus which by the way is incurable!
  • More than 290 million women have human papillomavirus which is implicated in cervical cancers.
  • 998,000 pregnant women were infected with syphilis in only 2016 resulting in about 350,000 adverse birth related issues including 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths.

I am sure these figures seem unrealistic to you but they are indeed true and factual. They are scary! and “scary” is even an understatement.

STIs have a profound effect on the socio-economic development of a nation as most of the individuals affected are between the ages of 15-49 years. This age bracket envelopes the sexually active youth and the old who contribute their quota in enormous ways to propel the country forward. 

STIs are infections that are transmitted chiefly through sexual intercourse i.e. all forms of sex (oral, anal, vaginal). However, this is not the only mode of transmission as blood transfusion, maternal birth, and sharing of sharp objects have been implicated. But can some of these sexually transmitted diseases be transmitted through kissing? Find out here

According to the WHO, over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites are transmitted through sexual intercourse of which only 8 are linked with most STIs. Some of these like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are curable. However, others like hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus, HIV, and human papillomavirus are not curable but their signs and symptoms can be reduced through medical treatment.

Most often than not, these infections do not come with symptoms thus, making it difficult to diagnose, treat or curtail its transmission. Others like syphilis may mimic the symptoms of other conditions. But some general symptoms that may be associated with STI include; discharge from the vagina or penis, sores, swelling, rashes, unusual vaginal odor, itching, pain during sex, abdominal pain, and several others.

Complications of sexually transmitted infections

There are many complications associated with STIs which not only affect the general wellbeing of individuals but also have much strain on society as a whole.

Some of these include:

  • congenital deformities and stillbirths
  • neonatal sepsis
  • pneumonia, etc.

As a result of transmission to children from mothers. For HPV infections, an estimated 570,000 cases of cervical cancer and 300,000 deaths are recorded yearly. The current surge of infertility and other gynecological defects may be due to some of these STIs. 

Can sexually transmitted infections be prevented?

All STIs can be prevented if you follow the recommended preventive measures against those particular STIs. A lot of people get recurrent STIs mainly because they are ignorant of the measures they need to take to prevent these conditions. A typical example of recurrent STIs includes vaginal discharge syndrome in women and gonorrhea in both sexes. The usual barriers such as condoms may be used as well as being faithful to a partner. Some of these STIs may still be acquired even after protection and hence, abstinence will be your best wager especially if you are not married.

In conclusion, the menace of STI is very real in our society. If you have contracted it, that is never the end. As earlier purported, there are treatment options available and even sometimes, vaccines. Walk into the nearest pharmacy or any healthcare center for management. Do not try to self-medicate as doing so will open the gates of antibiotic resistance, kidney diseases, and chronic STIs. The healthcare provider should be your go-to person.

Life is too precious to be determined by short moments of ecstasy. Open your eyes and live it well.

Spread the news about this evil in your societies. 

WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Prince George Acquah
Pharm D Candidate at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Tachnology

Prince George Acquah Jnr. is an award-winning poet and the CEO of NALANOM INC. He is also a PharmD final year student, Music lover, Chelsea fan, Dreamer, Academic, and the Author of the anthology, 24 and Gnashing.

Chief Editor at Wapomu.com

MPSGH, MRPharmS, MPhil.

Isaiah Amoo is a practicing community pharmacist in good standing with the Pharmacy Council of Ghana who has meaningful experience in academia and industrial pharmacy. He is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, England, UK and currently pursuing his overseas pharmacy assessment programme (MSc) at Aston University, UK. He had his MPhil degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has about 5 years’ experience as a community Pharmacist and has also taught in academic institutions like KNUST, Kumasi Technical University, Royal Ann College of Health, and G-Health Consult. He likes to spend time reading medical research articles and loves sharing his knowledge with others.

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