Sexually Transmitted Infections, commonly referred to as STIs are not something that many people talk about openly, if at all. However, STIs are a very real problem that affect people around the world, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.
There are many different STIs that often exhibit different symptoms and, in some cases, no symptoms at all, making the diagnosis and treatment of these infections difficult in many cases.
Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections
STIs are caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites that are transmitted from one infected person to another through sexual contact, blood or tissue transfers and sometimes from mother to child during childbirth. The most common STIs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes,Syphilis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Trichomonas vaginalis, Bacterial Vaginosis, Ureaplasma Urealyticum, Non-specific Urethritis (NSU) and HIV (AIDS). You can find out more at the leading UK sexual health charity - THT
The most common symptoms experienced by women as a result of STIs are pain in the lower abdomen often accompanied by abnormalities in menstrual bleeding, vaginal discharge and odor and pain during urination. Women may also experience pain during sexual intercourse. In men, the most common symptoms are discharge from the penis, swelling and pain in the testicles as well as itching or irritation of the penis and also pain during urination.
HIV and AIDS
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that ultimately causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) unless it is haulted through the use of medications. To date, although there are treatment options that can prolong the life of an infected person, no cure for HIV and AIDS exists anywhere in the world. Some HIV facts are as follows:
· HIV attacks the body’s immune system, making it more susceptible to life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and pneumonia.
· You cannot tell whether someone has HIV just by looking at them- only an HIV test can confirm a diagnosis
· Accordingly to the World Health Organization, 35.3 million people are HIV positive worldwide
· Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) can prevent the HIV virus from multiplying in the body thereby allowing the body’s immune cells to live longer and even decreasing the chances of sexually transmitting the virus
The best ways to avoid getting HIV are to:
1. Ensure that your sexual behaviors are conducted in a safe and responsible way, e.g. knowing your partner's HIV status, using condoms and not having multiple sexual partners
2. If it is necessary to use needles, always avoid sharing them and ensure that you use disposable sterilized needles at all times
3. Get tested for HIV and other STIs to ensure early treatment if necessary and avoid transmission of the infection to other people
4. Make sure that any blood products that you may require are tested for HIV
Where Can I Get Tested?
Many people are embarrassed to admit that they are experiencing the possible symptoms of or suspect that they may have an STI. This makes is harder for people to get tested as they will rather ignore the problem than consult a doctor or visit a clinic. The reality is that if you have contracted an STI, it will not go away on its own and it can cause severe problems if left untreated.
At The STI Clinic www.theSTIclinic.com the specialists are able to provide accurate sexual health tests and advice. They offer results within 24 hours and can assist with access to treatments if required. Their process is simple- you are able to order and pay for the test online and then you collect the sample yourself (urine sample or vaginal swab for women and a urine sample for men). You then post the sample back to The STI Clinic in the prepaid envelope provided and your results will be ready online within 24 hours or less. Treatments for STIs diagnosed (besides blood borne viruses) can then be sent via overnight courier if necessary.
It is important to remember that STIs are treatable and, the earlier that the diagnosis of the STI is made; the easier it is to avoid complications as a result of the sexually transmitted infection. We need to remember that our health, and the health of others, is precious. When interacting with one another it is imperative that we have a respect for those around us and by making sure that we look after our own health, we can do just that.
If you are reading this article and questioning whether or not you may be suffering from an STI, take the time to get tested or to consult a professional- there are people who are trained to understand your situation and will know how to help you when it matters most. You can even go to your nearest clinic, the service is done for free.
For more information on sexual health, please read Healthy Respect.