Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia in Africa Image

STD is short for the sexually transmitted disease. There are many kinds of STDs. Chlamydia is a kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is among the common ones and is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Chlamydia is curable; however, due to the lack of information about the said infection, many are untreated and are only detected when it’s at its worst. Hence, the rise in deaths related to it. In Africa, there are about 92.6 million new cases of STIs. This includes Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum, and Trichomonas vaginalis. Among these STIs, according to WHO, Chlamydia has about 5.1 million or 2.6% prevalence rate in Africa.        

Symptoms

Chlamydia affects both men and women. However, the symptoms and severity differ. Most men with chlamydia experience pain when urinating, feeling of tenderness and swelling of the testicle, and penile discharge. A study focusing on STIs in Ghana has found that out of 186 people who have been tested, 167 had Chlamydia; 24% of them were men, and 76% were women. 

There are a lot more symptoms in women. Women who are diagnosed with Chlamydia usually experience an urgency to urinate, discomfort when urinating, yellow vaginal discharge that usually has a foul odor, low-grade fever, bleeding between periods, pain when having sexual intercourse, and the swelling of the vagina or around the anus. Also, it complicates pregnancy, and it also puts risks on the child. One study found that chlamydia trachomatis antibodies were found in 33.3% of mothers with stillbirths. It may also damage the eyes, lungs, and skin of the child.  

Contraction & Diagnosis

Contrary to what many believe, Chlamydia cannot be spread by kissing, toilet seats, or hot tubs. It can be spread from person-to-person through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The bacteria can also enter one’s body when a body part moistened with infected secretion come in contact with the eyes. Chlamydia is diagnosed by testing samples from a urine sample, throat, vagina, or cervix. 

Treatment  

study in 2008 found that about 9.1% of adults in Africa are being infected by Chlamydia. It mostly infects young adults from age 15 to 25, since this age is the most active in sexual activities. Once diagnosed, patients will be prescribed with antibiotics. Aside from this, it is suggested to abstain from any sexually related activities to avoid the spreading of the infection; the abstinence should last for about a week or until the prescribed antibiotics are finished. Azithromycin and doxycycline are two antibiotics that are often prescribed to treat the infection. With early detection and proper treatment, the infection might be gone in just about a week or two. 

References:

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2016/9315757/

http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/jan2014/Chlamydia-Trachomatis-Prevalence-In-Ghana-A-Study-At-A-Municipal-District-In-Western-Ghana.pdf

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2016/9315757/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956315/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/treatment/

Chlamydia and Its Role in Female Infertility

Chlamydia and Its Role in Female Infertility Image

It’s estimated that 10 million chlamydia infections occur every year, only in the sub-Saharan African region. In 2018, the CDC (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention) recorded more than 1,700,000 cases all across Columbia, and some of the most infected were the younger population. While, around 2/3 of the new infections appear in people between the ages of 15 to 24.

This STD is well-known for resulting in significant health complications in infected individuals. But, the question is what’s its role in infertile women? Let’s take a closer look at chlamydia and its impact on infertility in the female population.

Can Chlamydia Cause Infertility?

According to statistics, 10% to up to 40% of females infected with Chlamydia trachomatis develop PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). This disease can have a drastic impact on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and womb. Even though it can be treated with adequate antibiotics, it often goes unnoticed. 

The longer the disease remains untreated, the higher the chance of scarring and blockage of the fallopian tubes. The moment this blockage develops, the eggs may no longer be fertilized, since the seminal fluid (sperm cells) won’t be able to get to the egg, resulting in infertility. 

In other words, this STD can cause infertility. In fact, this bacterial infection is responsible for 1 in 5 cases of infertility in females.  

How Long Does It Take Before the Infection Causes Infertility?

There is no information on how long it will take for the bacterial infection to result in permanent damage. It often depends on the individual and the state of their current reproductive health. 

But, there is one rule: “the faster you get treatment, the better”. 

Preventing the bacteria to spread is the primary way of avoiding any damage to the reproductive organs. But, that doesn’t mean that if you’ve lived with the bacteria for a few years you are permanently infertile. 

On the contrary, some individuals can carry the infection for much longer than others without developing any serious health complications. Others, on the other hand, will quickly start to notice the impact of the STD. 

Fertility Treatments After Contracting Chlamydia

Leaving the STD untreated for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean it will be impossible to conceive. With adequate treatment, the blockage in the fallopian tubes can be removed and allow for an easier conception. While the conception rates may not be as high as in a healthy individual, it’s still possible to avoid an ectopic pregnancy and other health complications.

Is Chlamydia Life Threatening?

This infection doesn’t pose a threat to your life. But, it can have some major health consequences if left untreated. The sooner you get treatment, the higher the chance of preventing infertility. 

To avoid this bacterial infection altogether, make sure to take the right precautions like using condoms and getting tested regularly. This is the first step to avoiding infertility.

References

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-018-3477-y

https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm

https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/chlamydia-infertility.html

https://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/default.htm

Africa and the Middle East Chlamydia Rates Based on Current Epidemiological Data

Chlamydia Information

Chlamydia rates continue to rise. It seems the Middle East is slightly catching up to the sub-Saharan African region. 

Based on reports from Nature Middle East, 3% of the Middle East population is infected with chlamydia, one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted bacterial infections. Compared to the 3.15% infected female population in sub-Saharan Africa, the rates are getting close.  

This STI is widely known for causing major complications in infected individuals, particularly problems during pregnancy and, in severe cases, infertility. This is a widely underestimated infection that continues to spread. 

Chlamydia Cases in Africa and the Middle East

According to the WHO, 50 million women get infected with chlamydia on a global scale, 34 million of them live in Southeast Asia and the sub-Saharan African region. That’s almost 3.15% of the entire female population in the area.

In an effort to compare the chlamydia rates with other countries, scientists have analyzed data from 250,000 people that live in 20 different countries all across the Middle East and the northern part of Africa. 

According to Alex Smolak, an expert epidemiologist, the rates for type 2 herpes and HIV were found to be much lower than in other regions. So, they assumed the same thing would apply to Chlamydia trachomatis. 

However, the research proved otherwise. The scientists found that chlamydia rates in the Middle East are just as high as other regions all around the world. While they may not be as high as Southeast and south Asia with 43 million registered cases, it’s not something to be taken lightly. 

Current Epidemiological Data

There have been very few studies that analyzed the epidemiological data for chlamydia and STDs in North Africa and the Middle East. The main reason being socio-cultural limitations and political issues published the Lancet Global Health.

But, if these regions were to ignore the condition and people don’t receive adequate treatment, it can compromise their reproductive health on a much larger scale. The most vulnerable groups at risk of contracting the infection are sex workers, women who’ve had a miscarriage, and attendees at an infertility clinic.

From the records we do have, statistics show a high chlamydia prevalence rate in Africa and the Middle East, but they are not the only areas where chlamydia is known to spread. 

Based on statistics from 2016, the global prevalence rate of this STI is at 3.8%, and it’s mostly found in women between the ages of 15 to 49 and older. In 2011, the recorded cases in the UK peaked at 236,595 and were found to be mostly present in the younger population between 20 to 24 years of age. 

The goal of this research is to raise awareness in Africa and the Middle East, particularly for the most vulnerable groups. Addressing the problem is the primary step to solving it.

References

https://www.natureasia.com/en/nmiddleeast/article/10.1038/nmiddleeast.2019.117

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-018-3477-y

https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/97/8/18-228486/en/

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Estimated-number-of-new-cases-of-Chlamydia-trachomatis-infections-among-adults-in_fig2_5543751

https://www.treated.com/sti/chlamydia/chlamydia-trends-and-statistics

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30322-5/fulltext

All What You Need To Know About Chlamydia

All What You Need To Know About Chlamydia Image

Chlamydia is defined as a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that affects both men and women. The condition is caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. Men can get this STI in their urethra (inside of the penis), throat, and rectum while women can develop it in the cervix, rectum, and throat. 

Both men and women get infected by the bacteria and develop this STI through sexual contact only i.e. during oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse with a person who is infected too. People who have already had chlamydia in the past can get re-infected if they have unprotected sex. 

Signs and Symptoms to watch out for

As mentioned above, Chlamydia can be asymptomatic, but in some cases, patients do experience different symptoms. Signs and symptoms of chlamydia appear within five to ten days after contracting the infection. 

Symptoms of Chlamydia in women are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding during sex
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent need to urinate and discomfort while urinating 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Painful sexual intercourse 
  • Swelling in the vagina or around the anus 
  • Vaginal discharge in large quantities appears yellow with bad odor

Signs and symptoms of Chlamydia in men are:

  • Tender and swollen testicles 
  • Penile discharge (milky, watery, or pus)
  • Burning sensation and pain while urinating 
  • Itching and burning around the opening of the penis

Consequences of having Chlamydia 

Chlamydia is associated with a number of complications including a higher risk of getting other STDs. In addition, Chlamydia can cause obstruction and scarring in the fallopian tubes, which could make female patients infertile. 

Chlamydia is also associated with: 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that cause fever and pelvic pain. Severe PIDs may require hospitalization. 
  • Prostatitis – men can deal with complications of Chlamydia too. For example, the infection can spread to the prostate gland and cause prostatitis which is indicated by symptoms such as lower back pain, fever and chills, painful urination, pain during sexual intercourse, and others.
  • Epididymitis – Chlamydia can affect epididymis (coiled tube beside each testicle) and cause infection.
  • Reactive arthritis – It’s also important to mention that people who have Chlamydia are at a higher risk of developing reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome. Reactive arthritis usually affects joints, urethra, and eyes
  • Infections in newborns – pregnant women with Chlamydia may spread the infection to their baby too which can lead to eye infection and pneumonia 

When to see the doctor

If you’re a sexually active man or woman, it’s strongly recommended to see your doctor and get tested once a year. This is particularly important for women who are younger than 25 and people with multiple sex partners and who tend to engage in unprotected intercourse. Of course, it’s useful to consult the doctor if you suspect that you have Chlamydia and in case you experience the above-mentioned symptoms.

What further testing to do to check for ailments related to Chlamydia 

Due to a number of complications associated with Chlamydia, further tests may be useful. For example:

  • Ultrasound for diagnosis of PID
  • A laparoscopy that allows the doctor to view your pelvic organs
  • Blood tests for PID, prostatitis 
  • Imaging tests (CT scan, x-ray)

STDs Symptoms in Men

STDs Symptoms in Men Image

Various symptoms are expected to develop due to STDs, and it is important for every man to keep these symptoms in mind. That is why in the following article we will briefly discuss the most common STDs and their symptoms in men. 

The most common STDs and their symptoms in men

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of the genital tract that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral unprotected sex. Chlamydia usually goes unnoticed there are very few to no symptoms showing. In fact, it has been estimated that around 25-50% of the male patients with Chlamydia experience no symptoms whatsoever. And the ones that do, usually struggle with:

  • Swollen testicles
  • Painful urination
  • Penile discharge

The good news is that Chlamydia is easily treated with the use of antibiotics. However, repetitive infections are possible and quite common, which is why past patients are advised towards protected sex and regular testing for Chlamydia. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is one of the most common STDs known to men and women all around the world. The most obvious reason to get infected with this difficult virus is of course, through unprotected sexual contact. Men who get infected with HPV usually do not develop any symptoms right away. Some of them might develop some symptoms months or years after the initial infection. The most characteristic symptom of HPV is genital warts which develop when oral or anal sex is listed as the main reason. Otherwise, oral warts are expected to develop.

When it comes to HPV, it is better to prevent it than to treat it. That is why there is a vaccine that anybody can get as a way to protect themselves against HPV. Of course, protected sex is another valid prevention method not only for HPV but for all STDs in general. HPV, if it does not show any symptoms, can resolve on its own without any treatment. However, if there are symptoms present, then you definitely need to visit your doctor.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, thus affecting the urethra, anus, and throat. Gonorrhea in men rarely causes any symptoms to develop. However, when they do, the following symptoms are expected to develop:

  • Painful urination
  • White, yellow, or green penile discharge that usually occurs one to fourteen days after the individual has been infected with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Pain that is felt in the testicles
  • Itching and soreness in the area of the anus
  • Bloody discharge from the anus
  • Skin rash
  • Painful, swollen glands in the throat

Gonorrhea is also treated with the use of antibiotics. Once again, past patients are advised towards safe, protected sex and regular testing. They also need to be explained the increasing rise of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which will make treatment more difficult in the future.

Genital herpes

Herpes is an infection due to the hepatitis simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of hepatitis, of which type 2 is always transmitted through unprotected sex and leads to the development of genital hepatitis. The symptoms of genital herpes in men include:

  • Painful blisters in the genital area
  • Burning and tingling sensations around the blisters
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

When it comes to herpes, there are some general methods that can be used to treat the momentary outbreak; however, future outbreaks are expected to happen. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent any future outbreaks. 

AIDS 

AIDS is a life-threatening disease that is caused by an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV can be transmitted through a variety of ways, including unprotected sexual contact with a person infected with HIV or who is a carrier of HIV, contaminated needles, from mother to child during pregnancy, etc. This virus attacks your immune system, causing mild to more severe infections to develop in your body. Other than that, upon getting infected, there are some general symptoms that can be experienced including a sore throat, headaches, skin rash, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. It can take up to 10 years for the infection and disease themselves to be diagnosed. Prevention is key when it comes to AIDS and HIV.

Everything You Need to Know About Chlamydia PCR

Everything You Need to Know About Chlamydia PCR Image

Did you know that more than one million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired each day across the world? According to the World Health Organization (WHO) each year there are about 357 million new infections with one of the four most prevalent STIs: gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. When left untreated, STIs can cause many complications but testing and timely diagnosis can help prevent unwanted scenarios. This post focuses on chlamydia and test that can help protect your health.

Importance of testing for Chlamydia 

Bearing in mind Chlamydia is the most common STI in the US, it is important to get tested in order to prevent complications that could arise due to lack of management. The biggest mistake that many sexually active men and women make is avoiding getting tested because they experience no symptoms. In some cases, and especially at the very beginning, Chlamydia can be asymptomatic. That means just because you don’t experience any signs and symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. The infection can also spread to other parts of the body and cause skin irritation, swollen joints, inflammation of the heart, spinal cord, and brain. 

Yearly screening is strongly recommended for sexually active women and homosexual/bisexual men who have unprotected sex. Pregnant women should also get screening for Chlamydia in order to minimize the risk of affecting your child. It is important to inform the doctor if you’re using vaginal douches and creams or if you’re taking antibiotics. Your doctor will probably ask you not to use any of that 24 hours prior to your test.

The most common tests used for the detection of Chlamydia are nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) which include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test is a cutting-edge technology with significantly higher sensitivity and specificity than other tests for Chlamydia. Due to the enhanced sensitivity of the PCR test, it can detect the presence of 20-50 bacteria per reaction and it is ideal for those cases when patients experience no symptoms. 

Since the test search for the bacteria’s genetic material i.e. DNA, it is highly unlikely the result will be false-position. This is yet another reason behind the importance of the PCR test. The test can involve a swab, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA), and urine. The latter is most frequently performed. PCR urine test involves the first-catch urine (20-30ml). It’s crucial not to include more than first catch urine because it would dilute the sample. Ideally, you shouldn’t urinate for at least an hour prior to the PCR urine test. Results are either the positive indicating existence of bacteria or negative meaning there is no sign of bacteria.

Ways to manage Chlamydia 

Unlike some other infections, there aren’t many at-home treatments for Chlamydia. Also, the efficacy of common home remedies is not proven just yet. That said, some patients consume garlic during the meal, drink sage tea, enrich the diet with anti-inflammatory foods. The best thing you can do is to avoid having sex, even if you’re in a relationship or married until your infection goes away. Standard treatment for Chlamydia is the use of antibiotics. Depending on the severity of infection, the doctor may prescribe a one-time dose or you may need to take the medication about five to ten times a day. In order to prevent Chlamydia, avoid having sex with multiple partners and use protection. 

Conclusion

Chlamydia is the most prevalent STD in the United States and one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Treatment of Chlamydia revolves around the use of antibiotics, but the timely diagnosis is necessary. PCR urine test is the most reliable detection method and it is highly unlikely to show false positive results, unlike other methods. Get screened once a year to catch an infection and prevent its complications. 

References 

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs110/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats16/chlamydia.htm

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/why-its-important-to-get-screened-for-stis-even-if-you-have-no-symptoms-10402313.html

https://www.stdcheck.com/blog/everything-about-chlamydia-and-chlamydia-testing/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8181.php

https://medlineplus.gov/chlamydiainfections.html

How long it takes for STD symptoms to appear or show up on a Test?

STD Testing

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common occurrence across the globe, particularly in developing countries such as Ghana. The public stigma associated with getting tested leaves sexually active people at high risk of developing some STD or unknowingly transmitting it to someone else. Sexually active men and women should get tested at least once a year and even frequently, so if they have multiple partners. Most people wonder how long it takes for symptoms of STD to show up or when they get detected through testing, and we are about to provide the answers. Read on to learn more.

How long it takes for STD to show up?

At first glance, it may seem logical that as soon as STD-causing bacteria (or virus) enter the body, you can get a test that would detect it. However, the processing route is more complicated than that. Generally speaking, we get infected when bacteria or other pathogens enter our bodies. Every infection has its own timeframe for susceptibility or incubation time, and STDs are not the exception.

For some STDs, the body starts producing antibodies to counteract infection and develops symptoms in a matter of a few days, but for others, it may take up to several months for the first signs to appear. Below, you can see the incubation period for various STDs:

  • Chlamydia – 7-21 days
  • Genital herpes – 2-12 days
  • Gonorrhea – 1-14 days
  • Syphilis – 3 weeks – 20 years depending on the type
  • Oral herpes – 2-12 days
  • Trichomoniasis – 5-28 days

During the incubation period, a person may not experience symptoms at all. Bear in mind that some people don’t develop any symptoms at all. So, if you’re in a high-risk group of developing some STD, it’s a good idea to get tested, but not too early as you may test negative i.e., the STD might not be detected. Wait for the incubation period to end or consult a doctor who will advise you regarding the right time to get tested.

When to get retested?

People with some STDs may need to get retested after a while to make sure their infection has been cured completely. Some patients don’t need to get retested, though. Here are a few examples:

  • Chlamydia – 3 months
  • Genital and oral herpes – no retesting necessary (lifelong infections)
  • Gonorrhea – 3 months
  • Syphilis – 4 weeks
  • Trichomoniasis – 2 weeks

Why get tested?

Most people underestimate the importance of getting tested. The danger of STDs is that they don’t always induce symptoms, and it’s easy to spread them to sex partners. When left untreated, they can cause a number of complications. Therefore, make sure to get tested and protect your health, general wellbeing, and partner. Nowadays, it’s easy to learn whether you have STD because it’s possible to get tests online and do the whole thing in the comfort of your home.

Every type of STD has its own incubation time during which people usually don’t notice any symptoms. Testing too early could yield negative results even if the person has STD, so test at an appropriate time if you suspect to have some sexually-transmitted disease. Or even better, get tested for STD once a year and even more frequently if you have multiple sex partners.

References

https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/how-long-should-i-wait-test-std/

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/how-soon-do-sti-symptoms-appear/

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-for-std-to-show-up

The True Impact of Chlamydia Through History in Africa

Chlamydia in africa

Chlamydia is a tremendous public health concern across the world. But, there is one particular continent that has long been struggling with this common sexually transmitted disease, and that is Africa.

Based on statistics, around 50 million women across the globe carry this infection, but 34 million of them live in Africa, particularly the southeast and Sub-Saharan region. Research estimates that the 10% decline in population growth in this region is the result of chlamydia infection, while 30% is caused by gonorrhea.

While chlamydia may not be the primary cause of population decline, it does have a heavy impact on people’s lives. Those who fail to get treated are vulnerable to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

Even though this infection can be easily avoided and treated, there are around 5 million newly reported cases of infection every single year, and most of them are recorded in Africa. Here, we will talk about the history of this infection, how it’s being managed today, and analyze the statistics on why chlamydia is still so prevalent in Africa.

The History of Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia has deep roots, and to better understand these roots, we have to start from the very beginning. Prior to the colonial period, there was one particular region in Africa that stood out from the rest. It was the first region ever to be introduced to sexually transmitted diseases, and that is south Ghana.

Ghana is located in the western part of Africa, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Its strategic location and land made it popular among European settlers. At this time, the settlers forced their way into society and brought the sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia, to the African region. These infections were never before seen or experienced by the African population.

By the 1920s, syphilis and gonorrhea became widespread with more than 1500 cases recorded in the southern part of the country, records show. Many years later, in 1946, with the arrival of troops and influx of laborers during World War II, tens of thousands of newly recorded cases of various STDs became a serious problem for the region.

At this time, there was no one responsible for controlling the STDs in the country or the continent, which led people to seek other unsafe treatment alternatives to manage the symptoms. Those infected purchased sulpha drugs on the black market.

These drugs were extremely dangerous to their overall health but were the only method of treatment available to the mass population. It wasn’t until 1986 that government officials finally turned their attention to managing STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS.

In an effort to put an end to these serious diseases, in 1992, STD control programs, treatments, detection, and prevention methods were finally initiated.

How Is Chlamydia Managed Today?

In 2008, Africa gained access to top-quality STD programs for effective treatment. These treatments are available all across the continent, and since then, around 44% of those infected have received proper treatment. Based on the records from decades ago, this is a considerable improvement.

Now, many health practitioners and volunteers participate in programs to raise awareness of STDs to help those infected better understand their infection. These efforts have paid off, and since 1999, chlamydia infections have dramatically decreased. With the help of counseling, now 85% of people are aware of the existence of STDs, and many of them have access to adequate treatment.

Why Is Chlamydia Still a Serious Problem in Africa?

For many years, the world has had access to proper STD treatments and preventive methods, but in Africa, these bacterial infections still remain a pressing concern. Based on records, Africa is the number one most infected region with STDs. It’s so prevalent that 14 million children have lost one or both of their parents due to these infections.

There are four major reasons that hinder the effects of STD treatment programs in Africa, and these are:

  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Lack of funding
  • Insufficient workforce specifically trained to adapt to this environment
  • Discrimination

Many infected have yet to try to manage their disease or attend programs. Most of the people who don’t get counseling, medications, or don’t use preventions are males. Results have shown that these programs and coverages are not enough to control the epidemic.

Most of the population in Africa is poor and can’t afford any vaccines or medications for treatment. Also, health facilities that offer chlamydia treatment services are far away from rural neighborhoods and are often situated near more populated cities or towns. This makes the facilities less accessible for a huge percentage of the infected population.

But, even if all individuals had access to these treatment facilities, health practitioners will often face one major problem, and that is the discriminatory law.

People who live in Africa are very discriminating towards individuals who are found HIV positive or carry any STDs. Those who carry the infection and publically announce it can get humiliated in front of their village or tribe. Based on statistics, women often carry the blame for spreading infection, such as chlamydia, regardless of who actually transmitted the infection.

Out of fear of being tested positive, those infected would avoid getting tested or receive proper treatment. This is something many health practitioners are unequipped to deal with.

Chlamydia has a long history, particularly in Africa

Africa has long been the most infected continent with sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia. Due to poverty, lack of information, proper education, medical facilities, and treatments, these infections have become an epidemic. This is how the bacterial infection has affected the entire continent and how it’s managed today.

To cope with such a serious problem, people should first learn about these infections. That way, they can overcome the discrimination and prejudice they have about these infections. However, this is something that can prove difficult in the African region. Despite the success in treating these infections, chlamydia still remains a serious issue for most of the population.

References

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-018-3477-y

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7705861

http://data.unaids.org/pub/report/2009/jc1700_epi_update_2009_en.pdf

https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/overview

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlamydia_trachomatis

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30279-7/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8511712

Common STDs and How to Recognize Them

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are conditions passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Millions of people around the globe have STDs, especially in developing countries, including Ghana and other African nations. Prevention of STDs is entirely possible, but to make it happen, we need to get informed and learn as much as we can about them. The main purpose of this post is to highlight common STDs and show you how to recognize their symptoms.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a common STD caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus is categorized into two types: HSV-1, which is mainly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, usually causing cold sores, but can also induce genital herpes and HSV-2, which is an STD.

How common is genital herpes?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, or 67% of the world population, have HSV-1 infection. About 417 million people aged 15-49, or 11% of the world population, have HSV-2 infection. Estimates show that 350 million women (87%) and 355 million men (87%) in Africa have HSV-1 virus. On the other hand, the HSV-2 virus affects 17 million women in 18 million men in Africa.

Evidence confirms that the prevalence of genital herpes in Ghana is high, and it could be attributed to high endemicity and inadequate intervention, especially in women.

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing genital herpes?

Generally speaking, every sexually active man or woman can develop genital herpes. That being said, some people are at a higher risk than others. Common risk factors associated with genital herpes include:

  • Having unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having a sexual partner who tested positive for genital herpes
  • Being a woman

Symptoms of genital herpes

The ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of some STD helps an affected man or woman to get much-needed treatment. That’s why it’s important to learn how to recognize symptoms of genital herpes, particularly because most people are not even aware they have it. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and patients think they will go away on their own without realizing they have an STD, which they can transmit to other people.

Symptoms tend to develop two to 12 days after exposure to HSV. People usually experience:

  • Pain and tenderness in the genital area
  • Itching in the genital area
  • Small red bumps or tiny white blisters
  • Ulcers which can rapture, bleed, ooze, and make it difficult to urinate
  • Scabs on the sites where ulcers rapture

An affected person experiences flu-like symptoms during the initial outbreak. They may also experience headache, muscle ache, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Sores associated with genital herpes develop on buttocks, thighs, anus, mouth, and even urethra. Women can also develop sores on the cervix and external genitals while men can notice them on scrotum and penis.

Men and women with recurrent herpes develop symptoms about 48 hours before the outbreak. They may notice tingling, pain, and itching at the site of infection. The pain may, in some cases, extend down to buttocks and knees.

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Why get treated?

Unfortunately, many men and women don’t go to see their doctor get this STD treated. When left unmanaged, genital herpes can lead to many complications such as increased risk to other STDs, meningitis, proctitis (rectal inflammation), bladder problems, and infection of the newborn.

How is genital herpes treated?

The cure which could eliminate genital herpes entirely doesn’t exist, but it is still possible to get the necessary treatment. The main objective of the treatment is to lower the chances of transmitting genital herpes to other people, reduce the frequency of occurrence, lower severity of symptoms, and help sores heal. For this purpose, doctors prescribe antiviral medications such as Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Getting tested regularly is important, and luckily, today, you can order a test online and do it in the comfort of your home rather than scheduling an appointment at the doctor’s office.

Read More: Genital Herpes Treatment

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STD caused by infection with the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which tends to infect moist and warm areas of the body such as urethra, eyes, throat, vagina, anus, and female reproductive tract.

How common is gonorrhea?

Sometimes referred to as “the clap,” gonorrhea is one of the most prevalent STDs. On a global level, 87 million new cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed each year. Like many other STDs, gonorrhea is also more prevalent in developing countries. For example, one study showed that out of 950 subjects from Ghana, 28% of them had gonorrhea, and men were more likely to develop it than women.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing gonorrhea?

Just like with other sexually transmitted diseases, every man or woman who engages in sexual intercourse can develop gonorrhea. But, the risk is higher in some groups. Factors that increase your odds of developing gonorrhea include:

  • Younger age
  • Having a new sex partner
  • History of other sexually transmitted diseases
  • History of gonorrhea
  • Having a sex partner who also has concurrent partners

Symptoms of gonorrhea

Some people have no symptoms at all, but it doesn’t mean there is no infection. The absence of symptoms can still mean you are infected and also able to transmit this STD to other people. Generally speaking, signs and symptoms of gonorrhea develop one to 14 days after the infection. Men and women experience gonorrhea differently, and below you can see how they feel when they develop this STD.

Men tend to experience:

  • Painful, red, warm and swollen joints
  • White, yellow, or green urethral discharge that looks like pus
  • Pain in the eyes, sensitivity to the light, pus-like discharge from the eyes
  • Pain in scrotum or testicles
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Anal discharge, itching, and pain in the anal area bleeding when passing stool

On the flip side, women with gonorrhea may notice:

  • Fever
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Swollen, red, warm, and painful joints
  • Vaginal discharge yellow or green in color
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Sore throat, itching, difficulty swallowing, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Heavier periods
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain and vomiting
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Itching and pain in the anal area

Read More: Gonorrhea Symptoms

Why get treated?

As seen above, some men and women may not notice any symptoms at all, but they are still infected. That is why it is crucial to get tested regularly, and home tests could be incredibly practical in this case. Being proactive about sexual health and symptoms of gonorrhea allows you to get the necessary treatment in a timely manner. When left ignored, gonorrhea can cause multiple complications such as infertility, an infection that spreads to other areas and joints in the body, a higher risk of HIV/AIDS, and complications in babies born to infected mothers.

How is gonorrhea treated

The primary route of treatment of gonorrhea is through antibiotics. Partners of infected men and women are also encouraged to get tested in order to prevent transmitting the STD back and forth or to other people.

Read More: Gonorrhea Treatment

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common, sexually transmitted disease that affects men and women alike. Just like other STDs, Chlamydia is caused by bacteria, and in this case, that is Chlamydia trachomatis. The STD can be spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, but it is also possible for pregnant women to spread Chlamydia to their babies during delivery.

How common is Chlamydia?

According to the WHO, about 127 million cases of Chlamydia are diagnosed each year. That is a staggering number. One of the most common reasons behind the ever-growing incidence of Chlamydia, especially in developing nations such as Ghana, is the lack of public awareness. In fact, the prevalence of STDs in Ghana is expected to grow as stigmatization continues. And, as you are already aware, stigmatization occurs due to the absence of the above-mentioned public awareness.

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing Chlamydia?

Factors that increase a person’s risk of developing this sexually transmitted disease include:

  • History of some STD
  • Having sex without a condom
  • Changing multiple sex partners in a year
  • Being sexually active before the age of 25

Getting tested regularly can help decrease your risk of developing Chlamydia. Regular tests also raise awareness of this STD, fight stigmatization, and prevent spreading Chlamydia to other people. Besides “traditional” testing at clinics or hospitals, people can also get at-home tests for Chlamydia, which may be practical for those who want more privacy throughout the whole process.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is often considered as “silent” infection because many people have it although they don’t experience any symptoms. But, just like with other STDs, the absence of symptoms can still mean you are infected, and you can transmit it to someone else. Bear in mind that even if Chlamydia doesn’t cause any symptoms, it can still damage the reproductive system. First signs and symptoms tend to occur one to two weeks after the exposure to the bacterium. Men and women tend to experience this STD differently. Below, you can see the signs and symptoms of Chlamydia in men and women.

Men may notice the following:

  • Pain in the testicles
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Green or yellow discharge from the penis

It’s also possible to get the infection in anus. In this case, a man may notice pain, bleeding, and discharge from this area.

On the other hand, women may experience these symptoms:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation while urinating

In some cases, the STD can spread to the fallopian tubes.

Read More: Chlamydia Symptoms

Why get treated?

Reasons to be proactive about the prevention and treatment of Chlamydia (as well as other STDs) are numerous. Besides lowering the risk of transmitting Chlamydia to someone else, you can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing various complications. When left ignored or unmanaged, Chlamydia can harm your health in more ways than one. Some of the most common complications include increased risk of other STDs, pelvic inflammatory disease, infection near the testicles, infections in newborns, infection of prostate, reactive arthritis, and infertility.

Read More: Chlamydia Treatment

How is Chlamydia treated?

Just like other STDs, Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. A patient may receive a one-time dose, or he or she may need to take the drugs a few times a day for five to 10 days, depending on the severity of symptoms. Generally speaking, the infection goes away in one to two weeks. It goes without saying you need to abstain from sex during this time.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacterium Treponema pallidum, and it develops in four stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The bacteria can spread from one person to another through direct contact with a syphilitic sore. Just like other STDs, this one also spreads through sexual contact i.e., vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

How common is syphilis?

The World Health Organization reports that 6.3 million cases of syphilis are recorded each year around the globe. In 2016, the last year for which data is available on a global level, 1 million pregnant women had active syphilis, which led to 350,000 adverse birth outcomes. Of these, 200,000 accounted for stillbirths and neonatal death. In Africa, the prevalence of syphilis is high, especially in males in rural areas. One study of pregnant women showed that the cumulative prevalence of syphilis among 4181 blood donors over a five-year period was 2.58% in Ghana.

Population-based studies show greater prevalence, and scientists point out that the lack of precise information can be correct with further research on this topic. More precise information allows scientists and healthcare professionals to create programs to raise awareness and prevent this STD from spreading.

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing syphilis?

You may have a higher risk of developing syphilis if these factors apply to you:

  • HIV infection
  • Regularly engaging in unprotected and risky sex
  • Man who has sexual intercourse with other men
  • Changing multiple sexual partners

Symptoms of syphilis

Symptoms of syphilis vary from stage to stage.

The primary syphilis is usually indicated by chancre (small sore), which appears on the site where bacteria entered the body. The chancre develops about three weeks after exposure to bacteria. It may be hidden in rectum or vagina, so many people don’t notice it. Chancre tends to go away on its own in one to three weeks. Some people can have one chancre only, but others may have several, and it tends to be painless.

Secondary syphilis occurs within a few weeks after the chancre has healed. A person may notice:

  • Rash starting on the trunk and spreading across the body
  • Sores in mouth or genitals
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The above-mentioned symptoms may go away in a few weeks, but in some cases, they come and go throughout the year.

Latent syphilis occurs when a person isn’t treated in the first two stages. This phase has no noticeable symptoms, but it may last for years before it progresses to the tertiary stage. The last stage of syphilis involves the spreading of the STD to other organs such as the brain, blood vessels, heart, bones, liver, and joints.

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Why get treated?

Without proper treatment, syphilis can progress from one stage to another and cause a number of complications such as the formation of small bumps or tumors on the skin, bones, and other organs, cardiovascular problems, neurological problems, higher risk of HIV, and complications in pregnancy and with childbirth.

How is syphilis treated?

Syphilis is easy to treat when diagnosed in early stages when doctors usually prescribe penicillin. In most cases, one injection is necessary. In later stages, syphilis can be difficult to treat, which is why it’s crucial to see the doctor as soon as you notice sore on your genital area.

Read More: Syphilis Treatment

Conclusion

Sexually transmitted diseases are common but are preventable. Practice safe sex, get tested regularly, and learn how to recognize signs and symptoms. The more you know, the safer you are.

Read More: STD’s in Ghana

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/28-10-2015-globally-an-estimated-two-thirds-of-the-population-under-50-are-infected-with-herpes-simplex-virus-type-1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6081947/

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4035-y#Sec5

https://www.ghanahealthservice.org/ghs-item-details.php?scid=22&iid=78

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#Sec11

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998162/

Information about home test for chlamydia

Chlamydia Information

Chlamydia is a venereal disease that comes from the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacterium attacks and embeds on the lining of the genital cells in the body. Unlike most bacteria, trachomatis needs a host to reproduce. Though it is defective on the human cells, the embedding makes it easy for detection in a test.

Read More: The Chlamydia Bacterium

Thus, a simple self-test at home can precisely give correct exposures. The advantage of having a home test is it takes a few minutes to relay the results. Early detection of the disease helps you in dealing with any rapid development of the pelvic inflammation damages.

Product: Right Sign Chlamydia Test

Product: One Step Chlamydia Test

Sampling of tissues

Men and women have different anatomies in their bodies. This means the procedures for collecting samples vary. The testing procedure may take about fifteen minutes to relay back the results. It is smooth and precise if you do it under safe and sterile conditions. Besides the sampling methods, the other testing procedure is the same.

Women Chlamydia home Test Sampling

The self-test home kit comes with a test tube, a swab, and two solutions, A and B. the commonplace of infection is usually the vagina. Then, take a swab and rub it in the vagina to collect tissue cells. If you can, using your urine can also produce the same results. In the test tube, pour in the solution A to sterilize it before putting in the sample. Put in the sample after the first procedure with solution A.

Men Chlamydia Home Test Sampling

For the men, the procedure is almost the same, but slightly different. Gently take the swab and insert it slightly into your urethra opening. Rub vigorously in round rotations inside the urine opening. Though it may hurt slightly, it is the only way to produce results. After the unpleasant procedure, you can put the swab with the tissues in the test tube with the solution A. you may also use your urine, but the swab tissue is more precise.

Read More: Chlamydia Symptoms

Results Analysis

This is the last stage before finding out the status of your condition. You have to put in some drops of solution B into the test tube. Close the test tube and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. After the solution mixes with the sample, you can now introduce it in the testing cartridge. This is the most anxious of all the stages. It takes about 20 minutes to wait. When it is ready, you will see one line for a negative result and two lines for a positive outcome.

The home test kit is a quick way of knowing your status if you do not feel like opening up to any clinic. It is faster than the clinical tests that may take about a day or two in most cases.

Read More: What is Chlamydia? and why get tested