There Are Billions of People Living with Herpes Worldwide, The WHO Reports

There Are Billions of People Living with Herpes Worldwide, The WHO Reports Image

At the beginning of May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published some rather worrying findings. According to the WHO, currently, there are billions of people living some sort of herpes infection. 

The herpes infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, responsible for causing two different infections. HSV-1 is guilty of causing oral herpes which characterizes itself with cold sores, whereas HSV-2 has been causing genital herpes for years now. 

Back in 2016, it was estimated that approximately 13% of the world’s population, aged 15 to 49, has been living with HSV-2. That is roughly 491 million people affected by genital herpes. The WHO suggests that today, about half a billion people are living with genital herpes, while several billion people have oral herpes. As for oral herpes, back in 2016, the data shows that approximately 3.7 billion people worldwide, have been affected by HSV-1. A noticeable difference in these numbers can be seen. These new findings only highlight the importance of proper prevention and treatment when it comes to such dangerous viral infections. 

HSV-1 and HSV-2 both pose a danger if left untreated. Genital herpes is one of the four most common STDs on a global level. Rectal inflammation, bladder problems, and meningitis are only some of the many complications that can happen due to untreated herpes infection. 

If a woman is pregnant and infected with herpes for which she has now received proper treatment, the chances of transmitting the infection to the baby during the birth are big. Later, the baby can suffer from brain damage, blindness, and even death due to herpes. Having an untreated herpes infection increases the risk of contracting another STD. The risk of HIV is three times higher among those with untreated genital herpes infection. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes yet. Despite knowing all of the potential risks and dangers, we are still left without a vaccine that can help us prevent herpes as well. Having no vaccine or cure that we can rely on, only exposes us to a greater risk of getting affected by herpes and the many dangers that come with it. 

Until a vaccine has been found, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the need to increase awareness about genital herpes on a global level. Many countries face the problem of having been denied access to the usual antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir which are usually used to treat HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the other parts of the world. This is yet another problem that deserves our undivided attention to find a proper solution. 

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/01-05-2020-billions-worldwide-living-with-herpes

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

Promising Results of Herpes Vaccine HSV529 in Phase Trial 1

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa Image Promising Results of Herpes Vaccine HSV529 in Phase Trial 1

Over the years, researchers have tried finding a proper phrophialictic and curative agent that we can use against HSV529. And it seems that 2019 is the year that they have finally reached their goal. Although it is only phase 1 and their vaccine sure needs a lot of additional work to be done, the Herpes Vaccine HSV529 vaccine has delivered some promising results.

Herpes Vaccine HSV529 shows promising results in phase trial 1

There are two types of the Herpes simplex virus – Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV-2). While HSV-1 is transmitted by oral to oral contact, the HSV-2 is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, causing genital herpes. Having multiple sexual partners, struggling with another STD, and being female are the three major risk factors for developing an HSV-2 infection.

Looking into the data on an international level, approximately 11.9% of the nation aged 14 to 49 have HSV-2 infection. In Africa alone, the rates of genital herpes are considered to be especially high, affecting from 80 to 90% of the African nation. 

Unfortunately, there is still no cure made available for the Herpes simplex virus. That leaves us with some effective treatment options that can help with the difficult symptoms caused by this virus and what it seems to be the most important issue now – prevention.

But that does not mean that researchers are not making a further effort to find a cure that we can rely on. That is how they got to test out the new Herpes vaccine HSV529, which amazingly showed many promising results! What makes the HSV529 vaccine different from the ones investigated before, was the fact that instead of inducing neutralizing antibodies like the ones before, the HSV529 vaccine is a replication-defensive HSV2 vaccine that is able to infect cells and with that, result in a broader immune response.

The research was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in September 2019. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that was meant to investigate the effects of the HSV529 in adults aged 18 to 40 years. A total of 60 participants were divided into three groups that received either the vaccine or placebo at 0, 1, and 6 months. For the purposes of the research, the vaccine was administrated as a 0.5 ml solution containing 1×10(7) plaque-forming units on day 0, day 30, and day 180. 

The results showed that HSV529 was safe and effective at eliciting neutralizing antibody, serving as a potential prophylactic or a therapeutic vaccine. Future modifications have to be done in order to improve its immunogenicity further, but this is a promising step forward to eventually find an effective cure that we can one day use.

Conclusion

Research done investigating the effects of the new HSV529 vaccine has shown promising results in preventing and potentially curing HSV2 in the future. Although there is a need for further investigation and modification to be done, the new HSV529 vaccine has delivered some promising results as never before. With the HSV529 vaccine, we are looking at millions of lives being saved and future HSV cases being prevented.

References

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

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083142.htm

https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/220/6/990/5486075

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/sanofi-hsv529-vaccine-candidate-derived-hsv2-strain-186

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.

Kaposi Sarcoma in Africa

Kaposi Sarcoma in Africa Image

Kaposi sarcoma is a type of cancer. The cancer is generally associated with a specific strain of the herpes virus. This is the virus commonly known for causing the development of bumps in the genital area. Some strains of herpes are also known for causing cold sores. 

Research suggests that it is especially common in African countries. The prevalence of the condition is significantly higher among the local population in Africa, particularly when compared to some of the more developed countries throughout the world. 

The Impact Of Kaposi Sarcoma In African Countries

Kaposi sarcoma is a condition often described as rare in many of the developed countries, such as the United States. On the other hand, it is described as an endemic disease in Africa, as well as a number of other countries. Being described as an endemic disease within Africa generally means that it is rather common for a person to develop this type of cancer in the country. 

One scientific review paper looked at evidence regarding reports of the disease among African patients. The researchers behind the paper were able to confirm that at the moment, it did pose a health concern within the sub-Saharan African region. At the moment, research is also somewhat limited in terms of how the condition should be addressed. 

Another problem noted by the study is a high prevalence of HIV among patients diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma. The presence of these two conditions together may have a significant adverse impact on a patient’s likeliness of surviving. 

Signs Of Kaposi Sarcoma

Patients who are currently sexually active in Africa are advised to become acknowledged with the symptoms associated with the disease. Early detection might be useful as a way of possibly improving the prognosis for the patient. 

Possible signs of Kaposi Sarcoma may include:

  • Blotches and bumps may develop on the skin. These blotches may sometimes develop inside the mouth or throat too. They will be elevated. The blotches may have a purple, brown, red, or pink color. 
  • Lymphedema may be a sign of Kaposi Sarcoma.
  • The patient may have an unexplained cough. 
  • There may also be chest pain with no cause identified behind this symptom. 
  • Some people tend to experience stomach pain and intestinal pain with no explanation as to what may be causing the symptoms. 

In cases where the lesions caused by Kaposi sarcoma develop in the patient’s digestive system, the individual may experience a blockage in their gastrointestinal tract too. 

The development of Kaposi sarcoma is linked to an infection by a specific type of herpes virus. The disease is a type of cancer that does seem to hold associations with other conditions too. Limited evidence suggests a possible link to lymphoproliferative disorders. The disease also seems to be more prevalent in Africa than in many other countries. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19996745

https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/sarcoma-kaposi/symptoms-and-signs

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

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/

Genital Herpes

Herpes Information

There are two types of venereal conditions. The first one comes from the Type 1 virus, while the other is Type 2. Though both are venereal diseases, they exhibit distinct clinical conditions. Type 1 virus mainly attacks the mouth and lips of a patient with painful blisters. Then Type 2 affects the genitals in both men and women. The most common is the lip herpes that people rarely associate it with any venereal virus. Though many terms it as disease, genital herpes is a condition like HIV. You will have to manage it for life.

Read More: HIV and AIDS

Analysis

Like all the others, genital herpes relies on sexual contact for its transmission. When one comes into contact with genital fluids from an infected person, the virus infects the foreign person. The debate around the transmission through oral saliva is still ongoing. The worrying trend is most of the infected persons do not realize that they are carriers. Like HIV, you may incubate the virus for a long period without displaying any clinical signs.

Read More: STDs in Ghana

The incubation period is not constant. The outbreak of the symptoms can be within a week or stay for months. Herpes symptoms will include any of the following.

  • Blisters around the mouth and lips
  • In both men and women, blisters on the genitals, buttocks and the anus
  • Painful itching of the blistering area
  • Open sores after the blister breaks and oozes fluids
  • Swelling of the lymph glands
  • Headaches and fever

Pregnant women can pass the disease to the baby during delivery. So, it is advisable to have cesarean delivery at childbirth. The complications on the baby may mirror or be severe than the parent.

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Clinical Testing

Most likely, the doctor can diagnose the sores by physical examination. But the standard practice is to have the fluid and tissues for laboratory testing. A clinical blood test can detect the herpes virus in its incubation period. In case you suspect of any exposure to the virus, seek medical opinion fast.

Product: Herpes Private Test Kit

Product: One Step Herpes Test

Treatment

Since it is a lifetime condition, the medication can only manage the clinical signs. Most doctors prescribe a combination of antiretroviral for a specific period. Treatment is usually at the onset of the outbreak until the symptoms disappear.

Self-medication at home is a supplement to conventional drugs. Proper hygiene with mild bathing soaps and drying the sores with a dry towel is highly effective in managing the ulcers. It helps in containing the blisters and accelerates the healing of the crusts.

Read More: Genital Herpes Treatment

Prevention

As you have more outbreaks, so does your immune system decline. It is useful if you abstain from sexual activities. This reduces the chance of contracting other diseases like HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Pregnant mothers should take good care of themselves to avoid mother to infant transmission.

Read More: What’s Herpes and Benefits of Testing at Home

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

References

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326882486_SERO-prevalence_of_herpes_simplex_virus_type_1_and_type_2_among_women_attending_routine_Cervicare_clinics_in_Ghana

https://www.redelve.com/backend/images/article/1553841134.pdf

What’s Herpes and Benefits of Testing at Home

Herpes Information

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and infections (STIs) are widely prevalent across the globe, particularly in low- to middle-income countries, and Ghana is no exception. Genital herpes is one of the most common STDs, but most people don’t even know they have it. That’s where the tests step in. What are herpes and its causes? Why get tested? What are the benefits of home tests? Learn more below.

See all STD Test Kits

What is herpes?

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a viral infection that usually affects the mouth, genitals, and the anal area. We can divide HSV cases into two main types: HSV-1, which mainly causes oral herpes and HSV-2, which primarily causes genital herpes.

Due to this fact, HSV is a contagious virus, and it is transmitted through direct contact from one person to another. When it comes to the HSV-2 virus, a person becomes infected through sexual contact with a man or woman who already has this virus.

Who is at risk of herpes?

Generally speaking, everyone can develop herpes, but some people are at a higher risk than others. Common risk factors for genital herpes include:

  • Weak immune system
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having another sexually transmitted infection
  • Having sexual intercourse at a young age
  • Being a woman

Studies show that the seroprevalence of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 among women in Ghana is high. High prevalence of herpes could be down to high endemicity and ineffective intervention in women across the country. Seroprevalence is defined as the number of people in a certain population who test positive for some disease or condition based on blood serum (serology) specimen. Scientists found that there is low awareness of the clinical symptoms and other aspects of herpes among women. That’s why raising public awareness of genital herpes, symptoms, causes, could help lower the prevalence of this problem.

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

What are the symptoms of herpes?

What many people don’t realize is that they can have herpes virus and still not display any symptoms. So, just because you don’t have visible symptoms, it doesn’t mean you are not infected or that you cannot transmit the infection to someone else. When symptoms do occur, they are:

  • Pain during urination
  • Blistering sores on genitals
  • Itching

It’s also useful to mention some people may experience flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and lack of appetite.

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Why get tested for herpes?

The biggest problem in Ghana is the lack of public awareness of genital herpes. That’s the reason behind the growing prevalence. Getting tested for herpes could be a useful strategy to reduce the incidence of genital herpes but also to prevent infected people from transmitting it to others. Getting tested for herpes could also emphasize the importance of safe sex practices.

Generally speaking, it is not recommended to get a blood test for herpes unless symptoms are present. For example, not unless you have sores on your genitals or anus. That being said, reasons to get tested for herpes are numerous, including:

  • Sex partner is infected
  • You’re pregnant, and you or your partner has already had symptoms of genital herpes

Product: Right Sign Herpes Test Kit

Product: One Step Herpes Test

What is the home test for herpes?

Long gone are the days when you needed to schedule an appointment at the doctor’s office to test for herpes. The healthcare system is not that effective to suit a larger group of people, it can be overwhelming to sit in the waiting room to do the test, and there is no flexibility in the whole process. Home tests for herpes are able to fix all these problems.

Home tests for herpes are convenient; everyone can do them without having to schedule an appointment. There is no awkward or any other uncomfortable feeling. At the same time, you can do the test when you feel like you need it; no need to wait for the symptoms to show up first.

Genital Herpes Treatment

For example, if you’re wondering whether you have gotten herpes from someone, this test can show you. Bear in mind it is necessary to wait for about 12 weeks after the sexual activity before you get tested. Home test for herpes may also be useful if you find out your previous sex partner was infected, you’re about to start a new relationship, you have unprotected sex,  you’re very sexually active, and if you used a needle or syringe to inject drugs in your body that an infected person has already used.

All the above-mentioned scenarios are uncomfortable and stressful. Home tests are accurate, precise, and help take away any doubt you might have. Plus, doing the test is incredibly easy and discrete.

Awareness About Genital Herpes in the African Region

In a country like Ghana, where the public awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and infections is low, there is a stigma about deciding to get tested. That’s the reason why many people don’t do so. The home test doesn’t require a trip to some specific location, gives people the privacy they need to learn whether they are infected or not.

Read More: STD’s in Ghana

If you are a sexually active person who doesn’t practice safe sex, you probably want to know whether you have herpes or not, since it’s one of the most common problems that people develop. Finding out has never been easier. You can learn whether you have herpes or not from the comfort of your home, without stress, hassle, and social stigma.

Read More: All you need to know about STD in Africa

Getting a home test for herpes will help you protect yourself in the future, inspire you to be more careful, and also increase awareness of herpes. Thanks to home tests for herpes, people, especially women, have the ability to gain more control over their sexual and reproductive health, modify their lifestyle, and avoid potential problems in the future.

References:

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

https://mariestopes.org.gh/what-we-do/sti-testing/

All You Need to Know About STDs in Africa

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a serious burden for the overall health of many people in Africa. These diseases not only do they affect health, but they also have economic and social consequences. Based on statistics from 2018, more than 20.6 million people in the south and eastern African region have HIV.

Read More: HIV and AIDS

However, the problem doesn’t solely include AIDS or HIV; in fact, it includes HCV, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, HBV, and more. The core of the problem begins with the poor knowledge and awareness of Africans regarding STIs. Based on statistics from 35 different countries across Africa, only 66.8% use condoms, and just 42.5% believe it is possible to get HBV from intercourse.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: Genital Herps (HSV) in Ghana

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Most people in Africa hide their STIs because they consider it to be disgraceful. This is a cultural phenomenon that has put a strain on the way people deal with the diseases. Patients are afraid to seek help or address the issue. Research from 2017 shows that 37 million people across the globe live with HIV, while 66% of all cases come from the sub-Saharan African region. That is a total of 5.6 million people. In other words, South Africa has the biggest number of people who live with HIV. 

Even though the economy in Africa boomed in mid-2013, it still remains the poorest continent in the world. In South Africa, the number of people infected with HIV continues to grow, but treatments and other forms of support, like counseling, have increased as well. Despite the scientific progress for treating such diseases, cultural traditions and laws remain a barrier for preventing STIs all across the continent.

Main Focus:

  • The Risk Factors Associated with STDs in Ghana
  • AIDS and STDs in Ghana
  • Genital Herpes Is a Serious Issue
  • Syphilis During Pregnancy
  • Current Challenges and Problems to Overcome

The Risk Factors Associated with STDs in Ghana

Based on statistics, more than a million STIs are transmitted across the globe every single day. Some of these STIs can be treated, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but others can have serious consequences on the overall health.

In all developing countries in Africa, including Ghana, this is a serious issue, since STIs are the most common bacterial infections that can be transmitted in the area.

The reason why this is so important is that such infections as HIV, for example, can be a serious potential epidemic for the entire continent, research shows. These symptoms in females are easily recognizable like:

  • Discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful or trouble urinating
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Blood in the urine

However, in many cases, these symptoms don’t appear often making patients delay their necessary treatment or transmit the disease even more. According to research, if the infections are left untreated, they could make women susceptible to complications during pregnancy. They can cause chronic pain in the pelvic area, infertility, pneumonia, or blindness.

The symptoms in males are a little different, studies show. The most typical symptoms may include:

  • Discharge
  • Narrowed urethra
  • Inflamed testicles
  • Sterility

AIDS and STDs in Ghana

Many infectious diseases, like gonorrhea, were first recorded in Ghana before the European settlers colonized the land. In the southern part of Ghana, syphilis and gonorrhea became a serious problem in the 20s. It took years before the problem dissipated. But, during the late 40s, with the arrival of the troops from World War II and laborers, syphilis and gonorrhea cases only spiked once more.

Based on records, the government didn’t take any necessary precautions to stop the spread of the diseases. As a result, people had to find a different alternative that would help ease the symptoms, and that was sulpha drugs. These were, in fact, illegal drugs only sold on the black market in Ghana.

When the first time AIDS was diagnosed, and cases with trichomonas, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were registered, back in 1986, the government turned their attention towards this serious problem. In 1993, programs were introduced to help control the spread of the disease and raise awareness.

However, due to the lack of funds, people can’t afford to insist on using condoms, which remains a serious issue for the African population.

Genital Herpes Is a Serious Issue

According to statistics, a lot more people in Africa have genital herpes compared to the U.S. Researchers believe that identifying the properties of the viruses widespread in Africa could open the door to new possibilities. Particularly in creating vaccines that could help reduce the rampant infections.

The reason why this is so important is that patients who suffer from genital herpes are more at risk of developing AIDS or HIV. Herpes contains many cells, specifically immune cells, that the HIV infection will target.

Based on the same statistics, 90% of adults in the southern African region have genital herpes compared to the 20% in the U.S. Even though herpes is not something that has recently been discovered, it persists in the African community, often affecting a single person for decades.

For people who never notice these symptoms, the virus could be a silent infiltrator that will slowly disintegrate the health over time. It will make the person prone to more serious infections in the near future.

Read More: Genital Herpes (HSV) Symptoms

Syphilis During Pregnancy

Studies show that Africa has a lack of coverage for treatments and screening for syphilis infections in clinics. The benefits of having such treatments have been well-documented across the years. Statistics show that this particular bacterial infection is accountable for 50% of all stillbirths, particularly in Mwanza.

If this infection is properly treated in the African regions, it can help save many lives. However, it remained an unsolved problem in this continent for a long time. It wasn’t until 1992 that the number of pregnant women screened for syphilis elevated to 100%. Compared to 60% during the previous years, it is a welcome change. Furthermore, 50% of their partners also received proper treatment for syphilis, meaning there are a lot of people who have yet to be treated or screened for syphilis.

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Control and Management

According to research, despite the valuable efforts to increase public awareness and knowledge of STIs in Africa, all sexually transmitted diseases remain a huge problem for the general public. These diseases result in numerous deaths, problems with pregnancies, cancer, illness, and more.

In fact, Africa is the number one most affected continent by both STIs and HIV in the world, statistics show. Based on the same statistics, around 14.1 million children have been recorded losing both or one of their parents due to sexually transmitted diseases.

Since 2008, effective and high-quality programs have been implemented. Each of these programs focused on providing treatment for HIV and necessary consultations. The idea was to raise awareness and improve the overall cases in different countries around the continent. Since then, 44% of children and adults are now receiving proper treatment. That is a lot more compared to the 2% coverage patients had in 2003.

The coverage for many is fruitful. Unfortunately, there are many individuals in Africa who have yet to attend programs to control their disease. This is the main problem, and a real challenge for the programs since individuals such as these fail to get tested or receive counseling. Most of these individuals are men.

The increase in the effectiveness of the coverage itself is not enough to diminish the real epidemic across the continent. There is a lot more work to be done to prevent this serious issue. More implementations and findings are necessary if the efforts are to continue.

Due to the lack, or the non-existent infection programs in Africa, it is more difficult to control the epidemic.  But, there is one research, previously mentioned, that shows the effect of the already-implemented programs in this region. Since 1999, syphilis and chlamydia infections have drastically decreased, making these programs beneficial and important.

With all the efforts and available counseling, now 85% of the people in Africa are aware they are HIV positive, and 79% of them now get proper treatment, statistics show.

Current Challenges and Problems to Overcome

All the important advances in research for HIV and STDs have been coming from the data collected in Africa. Many of them are now used on a daily basis in clinics around the world. That makes this continent one of the most important places for studying the effects of the infections. 

But, there are three major problems that slow down further improvements and successful treatments. Those problems include:

  • Inadequate funding
  • Lack of workforce that has been trained to work in this environment
  • Proper infrastructure

Without any of these factors, any further success is seriously impaired. Firstly, infections such as gonorrhea require constant management and monitoring to avoid the spread of the infection. Secondly, all the treatments required and testings necessary cost a lot of money. This can put a huge strain on the currently available funds.

To manage the costs, quick and cheap syphilis tests are now conducted in African regions. Another serious problem that affects the whole effect of the program is discrimination. In many, if not all, African countries, it is impossible for healthcare workers to give any help to patience because of the discriminatory law. Lastly, international partners are crucial in programs such as these. Without partners, the research won’t be able to receive proper funding or take up numerous different strategies.

In this current situation, the HPV vaccine is difficult to afford, which is why many people, particularly women, are at risk of cancer or other diseases. To make the vaccine available for everyone, manufacturers should reduce the cost. After all, these vaccines can save a life.

To make sure that children don’t get the same disease, research shows, it is better to implement the HPV vaccine into typical vaccination schedules for children.

There is also another problem that shouldn’t be overlooked. There are some people in Africa who are more vulnerable to STIs than the rest of the population. These people are sex workers, young women, transgender people, men who have intercourse with men, and those who are imprisoned. While others can still get these infections, the people who meet these specific criteria are more exposed to it, making the infection difficult to control.

Conclusion

For Africa, any sexually transmitted infections are a serious problem. This continent has been the main front for STI research in the last couple of decades resulting in numerous valuable research that could potentially be life-saving.

However, such results can’t be achieved over-night. It requires a series of long-term data, dedication, and collaboration with people and partnerships. In the past, STIs were not that focused on, and people had to rely on illegal methods to obtain medications.

When this research was first introduced, it was able to address only specific issues and focus on counseling. But, as the years progressed and the infections spread, more interventions had to be implemented. Due to the strong scientific evidence, the problem of the STIs is now strongly acknowledged making it a top priority to solve.

The approach to the disease was changed in an effort to bring acceptable care for patients in need. As a result, it was possible to implement interventions that would help control the spread of infections.

To overcome this problem, there are plenty of different steps that should be taken. Some of these steps have begun many years ago, but remain an unsolved issue today. The real problem rests in the multiple factors that halt the progress. Despite having the necessary technology and data for controlling such infections, a lack of funding and cultural restrictions make the problem even more difficult to deal with.

Without a proper vaccine, it is almost impossible to prevent HIV in Africa because of how widespread it is. Since the sexual reproductive health in Africa is considered taboo and irrelevant, it makes it more difficult to share awareness and increase overall knowledge.

Cooperating with partners has made training programs, treatments, counseling, and teaching activities possible. These programs have proved effective.

Reference

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0213224

https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

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

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

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00007435-200811000-00011

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

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61729-2/fulltext

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083142.htm#targetText=In%20southern%20Africa%2C%20infection%20rates,percent%20in%20the%20United%20States.&targetText=In%20evolutionary%20terms%2C%20the%20herpes%20viruses%20are%20very%20old.

https://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_2/ii10

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

https://sti.bmj.com/content/86/7/488?ijkey=f61101ad7ea4a6d38d38ad09d08ea667c028b5ad&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

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

Genital Herpes Treatment

Herpes Information

Genital herpes is a ubiquitous disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 6 of all adolescents and adults in the US have genital herpes. Further complicating this issue is the fact that we are frequently unable to fully get rid of this infection, borrowing one of my favorite quotes: “Unlike love, herpes lasts forever.” That does not mean we are completely defenseless, though, we have treatments that significantly reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life for these patients, and that is the topic of this article.

Read More: Genital Herpes Overview

The medications most commonly used in the treatment of genital herpes are:

  • Acyclovir 400 mg thrice daily (standard dosage)
  • Valacyclovir 500 mg twice daily
  • Famcyclovir 250 mg thrice daily

Even though these medications are equally effective, acyclovir is usually the preferred medication, particularly because it is much cheaper than its competitors. The duration of treatment varies by whether the patient has a first outbreak, a repeat episode or is suffering from a severe form of the disease:

  • A duration of 10 days is usually sufficient for a first clinical episode of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection.
  • Recurrent episodes are usually treated for five days.
  • Patients with 4-6 episodes or more per year, or with severe distress during episodes might choose to undergo suppressive therapy, which means treatment for longer periods of time (months to years).

Of course, not all episodes fit the molds of our guidelines. For example, it is acceptable to use double (800 mg) dose acyclovir for five days for severe episodes or use a shorter two-day course with double the dosage to shorten the treatment duration.

The disease affects each patient differently. A subset of the population might have heavier and more frequent outbreaks; thus, it is recommended to monitor patients for frequency and judge the costs/benefits of suppressive therapy accordingly.

Another vulnerable group includes patients with concomitant Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections. The risk of disseminated HSV infection in these patients is high enough that suppressive therapy is almost always warranted.

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Antiviral resistant HSV has become an issue lately. Since the three medications mentioned above are overall similar in structure, resistance to acyclovir usually means resistance to all three of them, in these cases, the medications used are:

  • Foscarnet 40–80 mg/kg IV every 8 hours until clinical resolution is attained
  • Intravenous cidofovir 5 mg/kg once weekly
  • Topical Imiquimod or cidofovir over five days

The future for patients at risk of contracting HSV is clearly bright. There are multiple vaccine candidates currently being researched for prevention, some already in the later phases of clinical development, and showing significant promise.

Read More: Genital Herpes

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/rtis/genital-HSV-treatment-guidelines/en/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-genital-herpes-simplex-virus-type-2-in-hiv-infected-patients

https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/herpes.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X16002978?via%3Dihub