Sexually Transmitted Infections
What is the magnitude of the problem?
- Of the 12 million new STI cases each year in the US, 86% are age 15 to 29.
- 3 million teenagers contract STIs annually.
- 40 million are presently infected (1 in 5 persons)
There are over 20 different organisms that cause sexually transmissible infections. Generally they can be categorized according to the type of causitive agent:
- Bacterial infections — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis
- Viral infections — genital warts (HPV condyloma) herpes genitalis, HIV
- Protozoal infections — trichomoniasis
- Fungal infections — candida (yeast)
- Parasitic infections — lice, scabies
STIs are spreading because . . .
- People are not using latex condoms and dental dams each and every time they have intercourse.
- Sexual activity is increasing, especially among young people.
- People are not aware of the infections or symptoms.
- Sometimes symptoms are absent or not easily noticed so the infection spreads and invades other parts of the body.
- Infected persons don’t inform their partners and the infections are spread to others.
Preventing infection — What can you do?
- Know your body,.
- Know the symptoms of STIs.
- Use latex condoms and spermicide with nonoxynol-9 every time you have intercourse.
- Communicate with your sexual partner(s).
- Be a responsible partner.
- If you are sexually active, have medical exams for sexually transmissible infections yearly.
Symptoms to be aware of . . .
- Unusual discharge from penis or vagina.
- Pain with urination or bowel movement.
- Itchiness around sex organs or rectum.
- Blisters, warts or sores around sex organs, rectum or mouth.
- Persistent fever and/or flu-like symptoms.
- Swollen lymph glands.
- Spotty bleeding (especially after intercourse).
- Unusual menstrual bleeding or cramps.
- Lower abdominal pain.
Viral & Bacterial Infections
Viral infections can be treated and “managed” To date there are no cures. (Examples are HPV, herpes, and HIV/AIDS).
Bacterial infections can usually be treated and cured with the use of antibiotics in the proper dosages. (Examples are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis.)
If you have a bacterial infection it is important to:
- Take all your medication as directed.
- Abstain from sexual activity during treatment.
- You and your sexual partner(s) need to be treated at the same time.
- Be aware that you may be treated for more than one infection at the same time.
- Have a follow-up exam to be sure that the infection is gone.
- Remember that your body does not build immunity to STIs; you can get them again.
- Symptoms of STIs can be non-existent, mild or severe.
- Symptoms are easily missed and/or can be mistaken for other infections.
- If you or your partner has symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.
Resources for care:
- KSC Health Services
- Physicians’ offices
- Planned Parenthood
- STD Clinic at Hitchcock Clinic, Keene (Tuesdays, 4-8 pm, by appointment)
- STD HOTLINE: 1-800-227-8922 (American Social Health Association)