1.Definition of STDs
The abbreviation STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease and is used to refer to over 25 to 30 infectious organisms spread mostly via sexual activity. STDs are also known as venereal diseases or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). An estimated 19 million new STD infections occur in the United Stated every year. They affect both men and women across all economic levels and backgrounds.
2.Causes of STDs
Just like any other infections, STDs are caused by organisms such as parasites, bacteria and viruses. Some of the STDs caused by viruses include HIV, Herpes, HPV and Hepatitis B. STDs that are caused by bacteria include Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis.
Human beings have been infected by STDs for centuries. Before modern medicine was invented, lack of understanding and awareness of STDs led to widespread transmission of STDs. Gonorrhea and syphilis were the most prevalent STDs in out-of-dated times across Europe. It is thought that crew members spread syphilis that they contracted in the Americas during Christopher Columbus led voyages. Sailors are thought to have spread gonorrhea in New Zealand from Tahiti during Cook voyages.
4.Most affected Populations
Almost 50% of all new STD infections occur in young people aged between 15 and 24. Women tend to be more affected by STDs compared to men. STD infections occur more frequently in women than in men and tend to be pose more severe health problems in women than in men. In terms of races, STD infection rates are higher among women of African-American descent.
5.Modes of Transmission
In almost all instances, STDs are spread from one individual to another through sexual activity particularly anal, vaginal and oral sex. However, there are some STDs that are spread through blood specifically among drug users who use intravenous means of administration. In this case, STD transmission occurs as a result of sharing syringes or needles.
6.Common Symptoms of STDs
Most STD infections show no symptoms and when they do, the symptoms get mistaken for yeast or urinary tract infections. Screening is necessary to determine the kind of STD one has.
7.Common STD in the United States
In the US, the most regularly reported STD is Chlamydia. Many people infected by this STD show no symptoms and if they appear, they may not show until a few weeks after sexual activity. Chlamydia can cause severe damage to the reproductive system in women. If untreated, the damage can become irreversible and make it hard to conceive later on. Chlamydia is known to cause ectopic pregnancy. Even in situations where Chlamydia symptoms are not obvious, this STD can cause reproductive system damage.
8.Effects of Untreated STDs
If left untreated, STDs can cause severe health problems like infertility, heart disease, irreversible brain damage, cancer and death. Testing plus treatment are recommended in case of exposure to STDs. In pregnant women, STDs can be passed on to infants in the uterus or during breast feeding and cause health problems such as neonatal herpes and pneumonia.
9.Treatment of STDs through Centuries
Arsenic, mercury and sulphur were mostly used to treat STDs between the 18th and 19th century. This caused severe side effects leading to the death of many people due to mercury poisoning. In 1910, the first effective syphilis treatment, salvarsan was discovered. The invention of penicillin along with other antibiotics in the 20th century made it easy to effectively treat bacterial STDs. Transmission of incurable viral STDs like herpes and HIV towards the end of the 20th century poses a treatment challenge today.
10.Prevention of STDs
The most effective way of preventing STDs is to avoid sexual activity. Other than that, the use of condoms helps prevent infection and to stick to one sexual partner with whom you have been tested for STDs as a couple.