Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STD : Chlamydia STD : HPV and Genital Warts
STD : Gonorrhea STD : Trichomoniasis
STD : Genital Herpes STD : Syphilis
STD : HIV STD : Hepatitis B
STD : Pubic Lice STD : Bacterial Vaginosis
STD : Chancroid

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a very serious health concern and place an enormous strain on healthcare systems throughout the world. Despite the widespread availability of vaccinations, screening programs, and effective antibiotics, the overall incidence rate for STDs continues to rise steadily.

About 20 million new infections occur in the United States every year, according to an analysis published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in February 2013. Especially alarming is the skyrocketing incidence in teenagers and young adults; approximately half of new cases are reported in the age group 15-24. In fact, one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by age 25!

Human papillomavirus (HPV) accounts for the vast majority of new infections per year with 14,100,000. The other most prevalent STDs are chlamydia (2,860,000), trichomoniasis (1,090,000), gonorrhea (820,000), herpes simplex virus type 2 (776,000), syphilis (55,400), human immunodeficiency virus (41,400), and hepatitis B (19,000).

STI Number, United States, 2008

Some STDs will go away on their own and not cause any lasting health concerns. Others can be effectively treated and even cured if diagnosed early. But some STDs remain in the body for a lifetime and can lead to serious diseases such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, liver cancer, and infertility. STDs can also have devastating emotional consequences, including depression, loss of self-esteem, anger, betrayal, and even thoughts of suicide.

Many people believe that they can tell by looking if they or their partner have an STD. This thinking is erroneous and potentially dangerous. Even doctors cannot diagnose STDs by visual examination. Many STDs are “silent” and produce no outward signs or symptoms. They can be dormant for months or even years. However, even people who are asymptomatic can act as carriers and pass the disease on to others. This is why STDs are sometimes referred to as “the hidden epidemic”.

Although modes of transmission vary slightly depending on the STD, in most cases a person becomes infected by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person. Actual vaginal or anal penetration is not necessary for transmission. Skin-to-skin genital contact, including sexual foreplay, can also transmit diseases.

Sexually active individuals who have multiple partners are most susceptible, although STDs can be transmitted during a single act of unprotected sex. Contrary to popular myths, STDs cannot be spread by sharing toilet seats, hot tubs, or swimming pools.

Historical reported STD

The good news is that STDs are preventable. The most reliable way to prevent infection is to abstain from oral, vaginal, and anal sex or to have a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected sex partner. When used consistently and correctly, male latex or polyurethane condoms are highly effective in preventing the transmission of most STDs. Condoms should be used for all types of sexual contact, even if penetration does not occur, and a new condom should be used after each ejaculation.

Most other birth control methods – including the pill, IUD, diaphragm, and spermicides – don’t protect against chlamydia and other STDs. Washing genitals and douching after sex are not reliable preventive measures.

For all individuals who are sexually active, screening and prompt treatment are critical to protect a person’s own health and to prevent transmission to others. Before starting a new sexual relationship, both partners should be tested for the most common STDs.
Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent some types of HPV, as well as hepatitis B.

If you are shy or embarrassed about having your regular doctor examine you, testing can be done at family planning clinics or STD clinics. Some clinics even have free or low cost tests for people with limited incomes. A website sponsored by the CDC, hivtest.cdc.gov, allows you to enter your zip code and find a testing site near you.

If testing shows that you have an STD, all of your sexual partners — your current partner as well as any other partners you’ve had during the past year — need to be notified so that they can get tested and treated. It is critical to take all medications as directed, including finishing your medications after symptoms have improved. It is also essential that infected persons make positive life style changes so they don’t get re-infected.

References:

1) Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States – CDC Fact Sheet

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2) Statistics on Sexually Transmitted Infections

Source: American Sexual Health Association

3) Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Source: The Center for Menstrual Disorders and Reproductive Choice

4) Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Source: Mayo Clinic