Overview on Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is roughly defined as any form of infection that’s contracted mainly through sexual activities or contact. Another term for it is sexually transmitted infection (STI). In the past, STD was referred to as venereal disease, or those diseases that are transmitted only through sexual intercourse.
More than 50 organisms are known to cause STD; be it bacteria, virus, or protozoa. STDs commonly share the same characteristics. They can be transmitted by any sexual activity between opposite-sex or same-sex partners, and not only through vaginal-penile sex but also oral and anal sex. If a person has STD, he/she won’t gain immunity against future reinfection with that particular STD or with any other type of STD. Also, there are some STDs that frequently coexist in the same individual. STDs can affect any individual from any gender, culture, race, age-group or socioeconomic class. However, studies say that women are the ones who are most affected by these diseases. Symptoms vary according among STDs and depend upon the causative agent and the location of the infection, whether local or disseminated. These diseases may be classified according to their initial symptoms and diagnostic testing is individualized for each disease.
Common Type of STDs
The five most widely-known STDs are gonorrhoea, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, and syphilis. Other infections are chancroid, trichomoniasis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The number of STD cases is increasing as new organisms have been associated to cause transmission of these diseases.
Chlamydia is the most common form of STD in the U.S. It is caused by a gram-negative bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is transmitted through intimate sexual contact. It mainly affects the cervix, urethra, and rectum but in most cases, the infection remains to be asymptomatic for a long period of time. Gonorrhea is caused by a gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Clinical manifestations of this disease can be divided into two groups: local and disseminated. Genital herpes is an intermittent, systemic infection caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2. This STD is the most common cause of genital ulceration, and the incidence is high among adolescents. On the other hand, genital warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This disease has become epidemic, diagnosed in about 5.5 million people annually. These are benign growths that usually appear in multiple, painless clusters on a woman’s vulva, vagina, cervix and perineum; and glans penis in men. Syphilis is a highly infectious disease caused by the motile spirochete Triponema pallidum. This disease usually affects multiple organ systems and is worrisome because it is often associated with HIV.
Treatment and Management of STDs
Infected persons need to be assessed for treatment right away, as well as their sexual partners. Treatment of STDs is aimed on eliminating the causative agent, if possible, or managing a long-term condition.
Administration of antibiotics is warranted if the STD is caused by bacteria, such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, and chlamydia. Oral antibiotics should be taken evenly on a daily basis. Doxycycline and ceftriaxone are often given to a person with STD. However, infected persons should be informed that doxycycline can lessen the effectiveness of contraceptives and should not be given with dairy products, antacids and iron. Persons treated with gonorrhoea should be treated for chlamydia as well, and vice versa. Penicillin is usually given to a person with syphilis.
Antiviral agents are given for HPV and herpes infections, usually in the form of topical drugs. These drugs have specific reactions with regards to frequency of usage, duration of therapy, and additional skin care. Podophyllin prevents division of cells. Imiquimod is enhances local immunity. Cryotherapy is used for cell lysis. Application of certain acids also causes protein coagulation and destruction of warts. Commonly used drugs for herpes are acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir.
Antiprotozoal agents like oral metronidazole are used to treat trichomonoiasis. It works to relieve symptoms, cures the disease and stops transmission.
Additional Tips in Treating STDs
Infected persons always need support in order to maintain compliance with drug therapy. Clients should avoid alcohol consumption during oral therapy for about 24 hours to avoid adverse reactions. Topical ointments should be applied wearing gloves to avoid transmission of highly-contagious diseases like herpes and HPV infections. Antiprotozoal drugs like topical metronidazole are usually not recommended for use because it is not as effective as the oral form. If the disease is recurrent, drug therapy is usually more effective during the prodromal phase.
Always use new condom for every act of penetrating sexual activity. Latex condoms are more effective barriers to STDs. Use it appropriately, effectively, and consistently.
Visit your doctor, look for accurate, factual and specific information with regards to specific STDs, and clarify for misinformation with regards to these diseases.
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