There are more than 25 diseases spread primarily by sexual activity. Together these infections — called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — have created a significant public health challenge in the United States. While many STDs are curable, others are not. Even those that are curable often have no symptoms and go unrecognized for long periods of time. If left untreated, even curable STDs can result in long-term health problems for both men and women.
In Tanzania, an estimated 1/3 of the population become infected with one or more STDs each year. In addition, an estimated of 5.1 percent of people live with an incurable STD. Still, less than half of adults 18 to 44 years of age have ever been tested for an STD other than HIV/AIDS.
Two STD Categories: Viral and Bacterial
STDs are often divided into two categories i.e. viral and bacterial based on the type of microorganism that causes the specific disease. Those STDs are caused by bacteria such as gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia are curable with antibiotics. On the other hand, those STDs caused by viruses are not curable. These include HIV, huma papillomavirus (HPV),herpes, and hepatitis B. Medical treatment ca, however, alleviate the symptoms of these STDs. Some STDs are also caused by protozoa (trichomoniasis) and other organisms (crabs/ pubic lice and scabbies). These STDs are curable with antibiotics or topical
Testing for STDs: What’s Involved
Less than half of adults 18 to 44 years of age in Tanzania have been tested for an STD other than HIV. Some people may not seek a test because they do not know they are at risk. Others may not seek a test because they are nervous, embarrassed, or unsure of what the tests involve. There are many dierent ways health care providers screen for STDs. These can include visually examining sores or lesions, collecting fluid from the urethra or cervix with a cotton swab, testing urine or blood, or conducting a biopsy.
Individuals should seek an early diagnosis and treatment at the first sign of symptoms to avoid serious complications. They should also talk to their health care providers about having a routine STD screening as part of their annual physical or gynaecological exam since many STDs have no symptoms. Women need to understand that STD screenings are not necessarily part of their annual gynaecological exam and that Pap smears do not screen for STDs other than HPV.
Prepared by Wellness Department