SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (Part 2 of 2)   2 comments

Sexual precautions. Naturally, the most certain way to avoid an STD is to avoid sexual contact with infected persons. One sure way to do that is by sexual abstinence, meaning not having sex with anyone. Sexual abstinence in young adults is a normal and healthy choice.

The next most certain way of avoiding an STD is by practising sexual fidelity. It is nearly impossible for two people having a long-term, faithful relationship to get an STD. This is true unless one partner is infected at the start of the relationship or uses intravenous drugs and shares needles or syringes. Moreover, it is not always possible to know whether one’s partner is sexually faithful.

Condom (or rubber), device to prevent conception and disease.

Persons having sex outside a long-term, sexually faithful relationship should avoid exposure to certain body fluids. This suggestion also applies to those who are not sure whether their partner is infected with an STD. The person should not allow blood, semen, or vaginal secretions to touch the genitals, mouth, or anus. The proper use of latex condoms is one good way to prevent body fluids from entering one’s body. Although condoms made of animal membranes may protect against some STDs, they do not always protect against viral STDs, such as AIDS and herpes. Hence, the latex condom, or rubber, should be used. The latex condom, which is designed to protect both sexes, should be used during sex. The latex condom can greatly reduce the chances of getting an STD, though it is not 100-percent effective.

Using a contraceptive foam, cream, or jelly along with a latex condom may also help prevent STDs. Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9, which can kill most bacteria and viruses, are recommended. Other birth-control methods, such as birth control pills, do not provide protection from STDs.

Symptoms

Persons having sex should be alert for the symptoms of STDs. This is especially true for those having sex with a person other than a long-term, faithful partner. Any unusual or unexplained changes in the health of persons who engage in sex with different partners may indicate an STD. Of course, the changes may be caused by other diseases. STD symptoms may appear anywhere on the body, but usually they occur in the genital area. The major STD symptoms are: (1) genital discharge, (2) abdominal pain, (3) pain during urination, (4) skin changes, and (5) genital itching. Symptoms of infection with the AIDS virus include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea, night sweats, and swollen lymph glands.

Some STDs do not produce any symptoms until the disease is advanced. Often the symptoms are hidden, especially in females. For some STDs, the symptoms disappear without treatment, but the infection persists. All STDs, however, can be passed when the symptoms are not present. Persons suspecting that they have an STD should stop having sex, go to a doctor, and encourage their partners to go to a doctor. There may be no permanent health damage if the STD is treated early.

Treatment

Persons who think they might have an STD should not try to diagnose or treat themselves. Only a doctor or other trained health professional can do those things. STD treatment is available from STD clinics in health departments, private doctors, family-planning clinics, and hospitals. A person can call the local health department to learn where STD treatment is given in his or her city. In every state, minors can get STD treatment without parental consent. Services are confidential. No one will know that a person has been to a clinic or a doctor unless the person tells others. If money is a problem, a person should still seek proper treatment. Most clinics will treat people without charge or for a small fee.

When seeing a doctor, the person should inform the physician why an STD is suspected. An STD examination is not the same as a routine check-up Special tests are performed to find out if the person has an STD. Usually a small sample of blood is taken from the patient’s arm. Also, fluid is often taken from the genitals or other exposed areas with a cotton-tipped swab.

Sometimes a doctor can tell right away if a person has an STD. Otherwise the doctor must wait for several days before the test results are known. Treatment, however, may begin on the first visit. Except for AIDS, genital herpes, and viral hepatitis, most STDs can be cured easily and quickly. Not all STDs are treated in the same way. Prescription drugs, shots, or creams may be used. The drugs or medicine should be taken exactly as directed by the doctor. A person should never take someone else’s medicine. Serious side effects could occur and the infection could be covered up but not cured.

Persons with an STD should be sure that their partners receive medical care so they do not become seriously ill. Also, treatment of the partner will keep the person from getting reinfected if sex with that partner resumes. One of the best ways to be sure a partner gets treatment is to take the person to the doctor or health department and to do so without delay. The partner can be told in person or over the phone that he or she might be infected with a sexually transmitted disease. A doctor or STD case specialist can help notify a partner confidentially.

Advances in Research

Despite the advances of medical science, the accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of a few STDs continue to remain serious problems. Much current STD research centres on these two areas, as well as on attempts to develop STD vaccines. Some progress has been made in these areas. For example, chlamydial infections, which have been difficult to diagnose, can be discovered more rapidly with a recently developed test. Also, a more effective treatment for genital herpes has been found. Even though herpes is not cured, these new medicines can relieve pain, shorten the time of blisters, and decrease the number of outbreaks of blisters. Scientists have also developed safer and improved treatment for genital warts.

In recent years, types of gonorrhoea that cannot be cured with penicillin or other antibiotics have emerged. This has greatly concerned public-health officials, who fear that the new strains could become widespread. However, scientists have been able to discover alternative drugs to treat the newer strains.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), incurable disease caused by a virus that damages the human body’s immune system; believed to be transmitted through sexual contacts, blood transfusions, or contaminated needles used for intravenous drug injections; often fatal; high percentage of victims are homosexuals or drug abusers.

Much research is being done on ways to better diagnose and treat AIDS. While it is possible to detect AIDS virus antibodies, scientists are trying to develop a test that would detect the actual virus. Experimental vaccines are also being developed.

The ideal way to stop the spread of STDs would be through vaccines. Despite major attempts to develop STD vaccines, especially for AIDS, only hepatitis A and hepatitis B can currently be prevented with vaccines. These very effective vaccines prevent people from becoming infected with hepatitis A or hepatitis B no matter how they are exposed to it.

Someday, perhaps, the number of STD cases can be greatly decreased. Better tests, more effective drugs, and vaccines can help control STDs. In the meantime, the damage caused by STDs can be reduced by persons being responsible for their own health and the health of any sex partner. The preventive efforts of individual persons is the best way of stopping the spread of STDs.

Assisted by William L. Yarber.

BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Jackson, Bernard. What Doctors Can’t Heal (Strictly Honest, 1993).

Jackson, James. Wellness (Dushkin Pub, 1992).

McCauslin, Mark. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Macmillan Child Group, 1992).

Mandel, Bea, and Mandel, Byron. Play Safe: How to Avoid Getting Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2nd ed. (Center for Health Information, 1986).

Meltzer, A.S. The ABC’s of S.T.D. A Guide to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Eden, 1983).

Yarber, W.L. STD: A Guide for Today’s Young Adults (American Alliance Publishers, 1985).

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Posted 2012/05/05 by Stelios in Education

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2 responses to “SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (Part 2 of 2)

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  1. Sexually transmitted diseases can always be prevented by using condoms and abstinence. ;::*,

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    Olimpia Besares

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