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April is STD Awareness Month
STD - SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE
What Is The Cause?
What caused this dramatic change in a period of just 30 years? The
answer is simple: increased sexual mixing of the population. As more and
more people have multiple sexual partners, the inevitable result is an
acceleration in the spread of STD. The problem is compounded by the fact
that 80% of the persons infected have no noticeable symptoms and,
therefore, cannot know they are contagious. The microbes that cause sexually transmitted
diseases are equal opportunity bugs. They don't care if you are white or black,
rich or poor, educated or illiterate, happy or sad. If you're a warm body,
you'll do. STD germs settle in an estimated 12 million Americans each year.
Worldwide, they find 250 million new hosts a year.
The Effect On Young People
Unfortunately, STDs are not equal opportunity diseases. Adolescents
have a higher degree of susceptibility than do older people. The
ectropion of the cervix of a female teenager is more likely to become
infected than that of a woman in her 20's. Indeed, researchers have
estimated that a sexually active 15 year old has a 1 in 8 chance of
developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), but that by age 24 the
probability has decreased to 1 in 80. PID is the most rapidly
increasing cause of infertility in the United States and is a primary
reason for the 600% increase in ectopic pregnancies since 1970.
Basic Facts for Your Protection
- STDs are easily spread through any
person-to-person transfer of bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal
secretions, or blood.
- When someone has a sexually transmitted
disease, anyone who has sex with that person stands a good chance of
becoming infected. Thus, having sex with multiple partners carries a greater
risk of disease than staying faithful to a spouse or long-term partner. Even
a monogamous relationship isn't necessarily risk-free, however, since one
partner could be carrying an infection picked up during a prior sexual
- Many sexually transmitted diseases are highly
contagious. For example, if a man has gonorrhea, a woman who has sex with
him just once stands an 80 to 90 percent chance of getting infected. If the
man has gonorrhea plus chlamydia, as frequently happens, the woman could be
infected with both diseases at the same time.
- Vaginal intercourse is the classic route of
STD infection. However, other important routes include anal sex (among men
or man-to-woman), oral sex, sexual abuse of children, and mother-to-baby
infection during childbirth.
- Sexually transmitted diseases weaken the
immune system, so a person infected with one STD has a greater risk of
acquiring other infections. Unfortunately, recovering from an STD does not
make a person immune. Anyone who has had a particular STD is still at risk
of getting it again.
- Men are more likely to show clear symptoms of
STDs. Symptoms in women may not be as obvious, and the problem could be
- Many women infected with certain types of STDs
have no early symptoms at all and may unknowingly infect sexual partner(s).
- In the past, gay men have tended to have an
above-average rate of infection with STDs. This is largely attributed to
promiscuity and may have declined in response to the AIDS epidemic.
Additionally, some men are secretly bisexual. If a man picks up an STD from
a homosexual encounter, he may then pass the infection on to unsuspecting
- Lesbians have a lower-than-average risk for
STDs, since most sexually acquired diseases are not easily spread from woman
For information about prevention, click here.
Some Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control (1993) there are 12 million
cases of sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases reported annually.
- Chlamydia - Chlamydia is a very dangerous STD as it
usually has no
symptoms; 75% of infected women and 25% of infected men have no symptoms at
- Gonorrhea - Gonorrhea is one of the most frequently reported STD.
40% of it's victims contract PID if not treated, and it can cause sterility.
- Hepatitis B - a vaccine exists, but there's no cure; can cause
cancer of the liver.
- Herpes - painful and episodic; can be treated but there's no cure.
- HIV/AIDS - AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among young men
and women. The virus is fatal involving a long, painful death.
- Human Papalloma Virus (HPV) & Genital Warts - 33% of all women
have this virus, which can cause cervical or penile cancer and genital pain.
- Syphllis - untreated, can lead to serious damage of the brain or
Some Less Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Bacterial Vaginosis - causes pain during urination, and untreated
can result in kidney failure.
- Candidiasis - Candidiasis, or yeast infection, is not a true STD
but can be contracted sexually, causing burning, itching and discomfort. It
is treatable with over-the-counter medication, although it is commonly
- Chancroid - a large, painful blister or ulcer which appears in
genital area; may rupture.
- Granuloma Inguinale - causes painless ulcers which enlarge and
- Lymphogranloma Venereum - rare in this country; causes lesions,
aching and absesses in the groin.
- Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC) - causes discharge from the cervix,
can result in PID or miscarriage in pregnant women.
- Molluscum Contagiosum - this virus causes smooth, shiny lesions,
which must be individually removed by a doctor.
- Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU) - afflicts men and causes urinary
problems, can be caused by chlamydia.
- Trichomoniasis - can cause foamy vaginal discharge or no symptoms
at all. Can cause premature birth in pregnant women.
This website is for
educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for a
consultation or visit with your family physician or other health care provider.
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