STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. These diseases are spread through sexual contact and are often referred to as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). But, here’s something to chew on – not all STIs result in STDs. Sometimes, a person could be carrying the infection, but may nip it in the bud before it becomes a disease. That being said, they are still prone to spreading the infection.
Some of the STDs aren’t as severe as others and could be cured with the help of antibiotics. Then there are those that are more fatal and permanent. The major problem with STDs is that not all of them show signs or symptoms and hence, they could go undetected. This further increases the chance of someone else being infected. A whole lot of trouble for a very momentary act, isn’t it? Way back in the olden times, STDs were known as Venereal Disease.
The name originated from Venus, the Goddess of Love. Did you know that you could get an STD in your eye too? If the semen of a person having either Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea gets into your eye, it infects the eye tissue. Therefore, some conjunctivitis infections could be because of STDs. The causes of these diseases are bacteria, viruses and parasites. If you are sexually active, there are over 9 STDs to look out for. Some that have a manifestation on the skin are not just gross to look at, but could lead to serious health problems like cancer, infertility etc.
Chlamydia – This disease affects the cervix, urethra, rectum, eyes or throat. If you experience pain, burning sensation or bleeding when you’re peeing or having sex, you should be get checked up. Don’t worry, Chlamydia is definitely curable with antibiotics.
Gonorrhoea – Also known as “The Clap” (no, there’s nothing funny about this disease), Gonorrhoea is mainly seen in the vagina or on the penis. You can contract this disease by coming in contact with the affected area. Any abnormal discharge or swollen testicles in men could be indicative of Gonorrhoea. Women, on the other hand, don’t experience symptoms apart from pain in the lower abdomen or while urinating. This one is also relatively high up in the safety scale and can be gotten rid of with medicines.
Syphilis – What starts out as harmless looking sores or rashes could soon develop to become the most lethal infection. Syphilis is one disease that could be contracted even by kissing, in addition to oral, anal and vaginal sex.
You may disregard a sore or rash, because it is painless, but know that Syphilis is a sneaky devil. It can lead to brain damage and heart disease. Once you’ve been tested positive for Syphilis, you’ll be given the appropriate medication to cure it.
HPV – As if matters weren’t worse enough, there’s an entire Pandora’s Box worth of Human Papilomavirus that you could get. 150 of them, to be precise! By being in contact with the skin of a person who has HPV, you’d doom yourself to the same fate. Some HPV lead to cervical cancer, others cause genital warts. At times, people may not notice the warts but they could become clustered and itchy. The good news is that this disease gets rid of on its own. But that doesn’t mean that virus is MIA too. You should visit a clinic to completely treat HPV.
HIV – The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the sole culprit of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It takes a toll on your body’s ability to fight infections by damaging the white blood cells. HIV spreads through bodily fluids like blood, breast milk, semen etc. Unless you’re weirdly observant, you may not even know that you have HIV for months. Exhaustion, fever, weight loss are some of the signs of HIV. As horrifying as it sounds, this STD cannot be cured. You could keep the effects at bay by following a medication plan, but the virus will continue to exist in your body and could be passed onto others.
Trichomoniasis – The target spots of the Trichomoniasis parasite are the woman’s vagina and man’s urethra. Bodily fluids of an infected person are the carriers of this disease. There are no symptoms to detect Trich, but if you notice abnormal discharge or any kind of discomfort while urinating, you should be careful. Fortunately, antibiotics can solve the problem of Trich.
In Europe, young adults of the age range 15-25 years account for 67% of the Chlamydia cases in 2013. Travel a bit further and you reach the United States wherein the rates of STDs reported are at an all time high. This could be because the people in need of treatment aren’t able to receive any. A report released by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that over 20 million STD infections happen every year.
The difference in the rates of Chlamydia cases reported in 2014 and 2015 is that of 6%; whereas Gonorrhoea and Syphilis have increased by an alarming 13 and 19 percent respectively. Whereas, in India there have been 86,000 HIV infections reported in the year 2015 alone.
How many more campaigns and separate funding do we require before some positive change can be noticed? In the follow up article, we shall explore some prevention techniques. That’s the most important part of being educated about STDs.