SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
To be frank, I have always been a fan of numbers. Especially the very complex ones that comes with maths equations however, after perusing a World Health Organization (WHO) article on the statistics of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a bolt of chills shot through me.
· 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 you are having a difficult time munching on these figures. “They are scary!” is even an understatement.
STIs have 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 envelope 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.
According to the WHO, over 30 different bacteria and viruses and parasites are transmitted through sexual intercourse of which only 8 are linked with most STIs. Some of these like gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis are curable. However, others like hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus, HIV and human papillomavirus are not 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 treat and also 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 vagina or penis, sores, swelling, rashes, unusual vaginal other, itching, pain during sex, abdominal pain and several others.
There are many complications associated with STIs which not only affect the general wellbeing of individuals but also has much strain on the 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. There current surge of infertility and other gynaecological defects may be due to some of these STIs.
The preventive measures against these STIs may sound rather cliché however, the import of this canker can never be ignored. The usual barriers such as condoms maybe 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 bet especially as if you’re 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 centre for management. Do not try to self-medicate as in doing so many have opened the gates of antibiotics 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 our societies.
BY Prince George Acquah Jnr.