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

Chlamydia Treatment

Chlamydia Information

Statistics show that 1 million STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are transmitted every single day. The three most common such infections are gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, with chlamydia being a huge burden in developing countries such as Ghana. 

Based on studies that analyzed the frequency rate of STIs transmitted in Ghana, chlamydia infections were 20.4%, meaning this is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the region. The same records show that of all the reported cases in the world for chlamydia infection, 9.1 million people infected live in Africa.

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Common Forms of Treatment for Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be treated and managed with antibiotics. But, for the infection to be completely treated, individuals should abstain from sexual intercourse. It’s important to abstain for at least one week or until the antibiotics have been completely used. Otherwise, that individual can risk spreading the infection to their partner.

However, even if the individual has received proper treatment, these antibiotics can’t undo permanent damage. If the infection has seriously affected the reproductive organs, the antibiotics can’t reverse that effect. A typical example is an infertility.

Furthermore, the infection can re-appear, so proper treatments are crucial to avoid the risk of a re-infection. The more chlamydial infections a woman experiences, the higher the risk of developing serious reproductive problems. Such problems are an ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Read More: Modern Chlamydia Treatment

Dealing With Cases that Are Difficult to Treat

Even though this infection can be treated with antibiotics, many fail to get diagnosed on time. Some even build up antibiotic resistance that makes the infection incredibly difficult to treat.

To deal with the increased difficulties in treating chlamydia, WHO (World Health Organization) released a new treatment. This treatment specifically targeted trachoma infections in Ghana, back in 1996. After 20 years of commitment and hard work, the treatment was a success. In the summer of 2018, WHO congratulated Ghana for successfully eliminating trachoma and managing to solve the major health problem in the country.

This remarkable feat saved millions of people suffering from eye pain, redness, and potential blindness due to chlamydia.

Read more: Gonorrhea in the Eye

What Happens If the Infection is Left Untreated?

Chlamydia can be a serious danger for the overall health, not only the reproductive organs but the rectum and eyes as well. For any individual infected with chlamydia infertility, inflammation, pain in the anus, pain during intercourse, bleeding between periods are not uncommon problems.

If an infected individual doesn’t receive proper treatment, this infection can be passed on from a mother to a child. The child can later face pneumonia, eye infections, and potential blindness. For a newborn, these can be extremely difficult health problems to overcome.

Many don’t notice the symptoms of the condition, which is why it’s important to get tested.

Read More: Chlamydia – why get tested at home

References

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/rtis/stis-new-treatment-guidelines/en/

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

https://www.afro.who.int/news/ghana-eliminates-trachoma-freeing-millions-suffering-and-blindness

https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/chlamydia#1

https://www.sexwise.fpa.org.uk/stis/chlamydia

Treatment of Gonorrhea: Modern approaches

Gonorrhea information

The treatment of this extremely common sexually transmitted disease has become very difficult for the past decade. Neisseria gonorrhoeae – the causative organism has a particularly strong proclivity to develop antibiotic resistance, and many older treatment regimens have become obsolete. So, what are the current best practices for treatment?

Read more: Gonorrhea Facts

Gonorrhea Medicine

  The current first-line treatment of genital gonorrhea involves:

  • A single dose of a cephalosporin antibiotic (most commonly ceftriaxone 250 mg) given via intramuscular injection
  • Single-dose azithromycin (Zithromax) 1 g.

This regimen is very quick and very convenient, particularly because it is often given immediately in the clinic. Those more scared of needles opt for oral cefixime 400 mg since ceftriaxone is only available in the form of an intramuscular injection. It is important to note that cefixime is not as effective for the various types of infections gonorrhea causes outside the reproductive system (throat infections, bacterial arthritis and etc.), and is thus only seen as an alternative when ceftriaxone is not available.

Read More: Gonorrhea Symptoms

All gonorrhea treatment regimens also take into account the coexistence of chlamydia. These two infections often occur together and are thus treated together.

Alternative treatment of Gonorrhea

An alternative treatment course would incorporate ceftriaxone with a tetracycline antibiotic, most commonly doxycycline. This combination is no longer recommended by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to antibiotic resistance. It is generally considered “good practice” to have the local antibiotic resistance characteristics in mind when prescribing. For example, the WHO also states that ceftriaxone or cefixime can be used on their own for treatment provided there is reliable data that the local strain is susceptible to these on their own.

Read More: Why get tested for Gonorrhea

A novel antibiotic for the treatment of gonorrhea is spectinomycin (Trobicin). It is a rarely used antibiotic in the developing world (especially sub-Saharan Africa) due to its cost, having a wholesale cost per dose ranging from 2 to 20 times higher than ceftriaxone or azithromycin. Nevertheless, it can be used as a single treatment, with a 2-gram intramuscular injection enough to fight the most susceptible strains.

There is hope for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in the future. Research done by the CDC and the National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown that combinations of:

  • Gentamicin plus azithromycin or
  • Gemifloxacin plus azithromycin

 Are more than 99% effective for the treatment of genital gonorrhea. Even better, both of these new combinations are given orally. The CDC has not changed its recommendation, though, noting the significant gastrointestinal side effects of these medications as the cause. With new experimental treatments such as zoliflodacin showing promise, not all is bleak for those with sexually transmitted diseases.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/arg/basic.htm

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

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/218059-treatment#d9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165062/

https://www.jwatch.org/na47824/2018/11/07/new-oral-antibiotic-treatment-gonorrhea

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

Syphilis: A short guide on treatment

Syphilis information

Syphilis has been a blight on human populations for centuries now. It still is a significant cause of disease in some parts of the world and, more importantly, of newborn and infant (perinatal) mortality. Sub-saharan Africa is one of the most affected places, with 20% of all perinatal mortality being caused by this illness and the prevalence among pregnant women being 2.9%. Luckily the disease, caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum, is fairly straightforward to treat in its early forms. Here we discuss the established methods of treating syphilis.

Different medicines to treat Syphilis

The treatment prescribed varies by whether we are facing early, non-disseminated, syphilis, or a later, more severe form. Early forms of syphilis in adults and adolescents are treated with either:

  • A single dose of benzathine penicillin G given as an intramuscular injection. This is a long-acting form of penicillin which works to fight the bacterium over the span of a week.
  • In the cases where benzathine penicillin G is not available (expense, buy-outs, low supply and etc.), procaine penicillin G may be used. The drawback of procaine penicillin G is its short duration of action, so a patient needs daily injections over 10-14 days.

About 8-12% of all patients are allergic to penicillin. The treatment for these patients includes one of the following:

  • Doxycycline 100 mg orally twice daily for 14 days
  • Ceftriaxone 1 g via intramuscular injections for 10-14 days
  • A single dose of 2 g oral azithromycin
  • Erythromycin 500 mg orally four times daily for 14 days (Used in pregnancy)

Pregnant women

There are caveats to these treatments as well. Namely, doxycycline may not be used in pregnant women as it may cause bone abnormalities in newborns, ceftriaxone is expensive and out of reach for poorer populations, and some strains of Treponema pallidum are resistant to azithromycin. It is imperative to note that azithromycin and erythromycin only partially pass the placenta and thus do not treat the fetus, a newborn born to a mother treated with these must be treated separately after birth with either aqueous benzylpenicillin or procaine penicillin for 10-15 days.

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Treatment of later forms of syphilis is essentially the same as that of the earlier forms. The main important distinguishing factor is duration, which is often doubled or tripled compared to the earlier forms:

  • Benzathine penicillin G is given weekly over three consecutive weeks.
  • Procaine penicillin is administered daily for over 20 days.
  • Doxycycline, erythromycin, and azithromycin are given orally over 30 days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also strongly recommends that stock-outs of benzathine penicillin in antenatal care should be avoided at all costs as the risks of congenital and disseminated disease are substantial.

Read More: Why Syphilis Tests for Home Use

Product: Syphilis Test from RightSign

Product: One Step Syphilis Test

The main challenges of syphilis treatment continue to be access to proper healthcare and the availability of medications in poorer regions such as south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, requiring greater efforts from the international community.

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: STD’s in Ghana

References:

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2019/4562385/

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/229461-guidelines

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

HIV Symptoms

HIV information

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted infection that attacks your immune system, thus compromising your body’s ability to fight disease. It’s quite prevalent in African countries such as Ghana, where the national prevalence of HIV is at 2.4%.  Luckily, with medication, most of the effects of HIV are subdued, and patients can live a long and healthy life.

However, medication is only effective if HIV treatment begins early. To ensure that you can catch HIV early, you should always be on the lookout for any symptoms of the virus. There are different stages of the virus, with different symptoms at each stage. Though symptoms may vary from person to person, here are a few common ones to keep in mind.

Read More: HIV and AIDS Overview

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Acute HIV Infection

This is the first stage, beginning two to four weeks after the virus enters your body. Most symptoms at this stage are flu-like and can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aching Muscles
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Fatigue

Not everyone will experience symptoms at this stage. Roughly 70% of HIV infected people will feel experience symptoms in stage 1.

Clinical Latent Infection

At this stage, the virus begins to spread slowly. At this stage, patients are likely to experience:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Thrush
  • Shingles

However, eventually, the flu-like symptoms go away, and most HIV infected people do not show any signs of carrying the disease. Yet they can still transmit it to other people. If the virus remains untreated, this stage can last for up to 15 years. However, it can also progress onto the next stage quicker than this.

AIDS

This is the last stage of the virus. It’s the point where the virus completely weakens your body’s immune system and progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Symptoms of this stage include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Extreme Tiredness
  • Prolonged Swelling Of Lymph Glands
  • Persistent Diarrhoea
  • Pneumonia
  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Night Sweats
  • White Spots On Your Tongue

Importance of detecting symptoms

The latency period of HIV makes it extremely important to spot the symptoms in stage 1. During stage 2, more often than not, no symptoms appear, and if you wait till stage 3 to get treatment, you may be too late.

The safest option is to take precautionary measures. Make sure to take part in awareness campaigns that your local government or NGOs may be organizing. These are great ways to make yourself more aware of how you can protect yourself.

A recent report found that rates of HIV in pregnant women in Ghana declined after they attended an antenatal clinic. It’s important to keep yourself aware in order to protect yourself from any possible way of transmission and get tested for HIV regularly.

Read More: HIV Treatment

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/symptoms-of-hiv

https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/understanding-aids-hiv-symptoms#1

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Greater-Accra-Ashanti-Regions-lead-in-HIV-prevalence-rate-651459#

Gonorrhea Symptoms

Gonorrhea information

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by an infection with the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This infection, as the term implies, is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sexual intercourse. Gonorrhea tends to infect warm, moist areas of the body such as the urethra, vagina, the female reproductive system, eyes, etc. Approximately 800,000 Gonorrhea cases have been estimated to occur each year in the United States alone. Luckily, most countries offer a free-of-charge diagnosis and treatment. In the following, we will explain the major signs and symptoms of Gonorrhea to help you learn how to recognize them and ask for help as soon as possible.

Read More: Gonorrhea Overview

The characteristic symptoms of Gonorrhea

The first signs and symptoms of Gonorrhea are expected to occur within two to fourteen days after the exposure. The biggest problem with Gonorrhea is that many individuals never develop any noticeable symptoms, thus exposing themselves to the great risks that come with leaving the infection untreated. In fact, research from 1974 has revealed that approximately 43% of the participants had no noticeable symptoms at all. These individuals also pose a risk of spreading the infection even further, since they are unaware of being the so-called nonsymptomatic carriers.

  • Symptoms in men

In men, the first symptom usually develops within the first week after exposure. In most cases, the first symptom is painful urination. As the infection progresses, other symptoms follow as well, including:

  • Frequent urination;
    • Urgency of urination;
    • A pus-like discharge of the penis, with a characteristic green, white, or yellowish color;
    • Swelling at the opening of the penis;
    • Swelling and pain in one testicle;
    • Persistent sore throat etc.
  • Symptoms in women

It is common for most women to not experience any symptoms at all. And when they do, the symptoms variate from mild to more severe and commonly mimic the symptoms of other health problems, making it a real challenge to make an accurate diagnosis. In women, the most characteristic symptoms are:

  • Painful urination;
    • Frequent urination;
    • Heavier menstrual periods;
    • Vaginal bleeding in-between menstrual periods;
    • Painful sexual intercourse;
    • Vulvar swelling;
    • Vaginal discharge, usually being watery or creamy, slightly greenish colored;
    • Fever;
    • Sharp abdominal pain;
    • Persistent sore throat, etc.

If any of these symptoms are present, do consult a doctor as soon as possible. Gonorrhea is diagnosed by taking a swab and a blood sample that is later analyzed. Antibiotics will help relieve the present symptoms and improve your health. Because of the potential complications, Gonorrhea represents a health issue that needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Read More: Gonorrhea in the eye

Read More: Gonorrhea in the Anus and Rectum

Read More: Gonorrhea Testing and Diagnosis

Gonorrhea, which is a common STD, threatens to cause difficult complications, including ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and even damage to your brain and spinal cord, among others, if left untreated. It is of vital importance for anyone who practices unprotected sex to remember the symptoms of Gonorrhea and get regularly tested for this, and all of the other common STDs as a way to protect their health.

Product: Gonorrhea Test (Right Sign)

Product: Gonorrhea Test (One Step)

References

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

http://www.intheknowzone.com/sexual-health-topics/gonorrhea/statistics.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1947122/

https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/do-i-have-gonorrhea

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/gonorrhea/what-are-symptoms-gonorrhea

Syphilis Symptoms

Syphilis information

Caused by the bacteria called Treponema pallidum, Syphilis represents one of the many common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Like the other common STIs, Syphilis as well is being transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse – oral, vaginal, and anal, and any direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis

In 2016, there have been discovered over 88,000 cases of Syphilis in the United States alone. Further investigation has also shown that although the Syphilis rates among women have been declining, these very same rates have been increasing at the same time among men, especially men who are having unprotected sexual intercourse with other men.

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

The common Syphilis symptoms

The Syphilis infection goes through four stages – primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary, with it being most infectious in the first and second stage. Let’s look into a bit more deeply in each of the four stages and the symptoms that are characteristic for them.

Primary stage

The primary stage begins within the first three to four weeks after the infection has been transmitted. The first symptom is a small, painless, yet highly infectious sore called chancre. The sore can occur anywhere on the body, such as on or inside the mouth, lips, genitalia, or the rectum. The present chancre heals itself within three to six weeks.

Secondary stage

The secondary stage begins within a few weeks after the first chancre has healed itself. In this stage, a characteristic rash that covers the whole body, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, develops. In most cases, the rash is painless and may be accompanied by wartlike sores in the mouth or the genitalia. In this stage, other symptoms such as hair loss, muscle aches, fever, weight loss, and a sore throat may develop as well. It is characteristic for these symptoms to come and go away within a few weeks, for as long as one year.

Latent stage

If you have not received proper treatment in the first two stages of the infection, the infection will go into a latent stage. This is a stage in which the symptoms are hidden; however, the bacteria remain in the body. That way, the bacteria can be present in the body for a few years, before it progresses to the last stage – tertiary syphilis.

Tertiary stage

It has been suggested that 15-30% of the patients enter the tertiary stage because they have failed to receive proper treatment before. This stage poses the biggest threats to a person’s health, causing health issues such as:

  • Blindness;
    • Deafness;
    • Mental illnesses;
    • Stroke and meningitis;
    • An infection to the brain and/or spinal cord;
    • Paralysis;
    • Heart disease;
    • Memory loss, etc.

Knowing how easily treatable Syphilis is, thanks to the existence of Penicillin, no patient should risk his life, leaving this infection untreated. Although the symptoms might not sound scary enough, the complications of leaving Syphilis untreated sure do. If you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to ask for help and save your life.

Read More: Syphilis Treatment

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1779891/

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

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

https://www.avert.org/sex-stis/sexually-transmitted-infections/syphilis

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/syphilis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/syphilis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351756

HIV Treatment

HIV information

Though HIV cannot be cured completely, advances in modern medicine have made sure that patients of the disease can live long and healthy lives. Treatment for HIV can also bring the viral load of HIV down to undetectable levels, which means that those infected are not even at risk of transmitting the disease.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

ART refers to using a combination of medicines to tackle HIV and manage the virus. ART includes taking different drugs from different classes, each tackling the virus in different ways. Currently, countries like Ghana use a triple combination of antiretrovirals.

What makes ART so effective is that it reduces the chances of the infection becoming drug-resistant. By combining different kinds of drugs, ART tackles the virus much more effectively. Currently, approximately 67% of adults with HIV in South Africa are using ART.

When Is the Right Time to Start Treatment?

ART was previously recommended to only those patients whose CD4 T cell count was below 350, depicting an alarming case of HIV. However, now medical practitioners recommend ART to anyone with detectable HIV, regardless of CD4 T cell count.

If your HIV test comes back positive, it’s essential that you begin treatment right away. Otherwise, the infection can spread to more cells, and It can become increasingly difficult to control it.

A report in Ghana showed that the later you chose to get treatment, the more expensive the initial cost was. In addition, while ART is slightly expensive at the beginning, the cost of the treatment steadily declines over time.

Read More: HIV Symptoms

Does Treatment Have Any Side Effects?

HIV treatment is no easy task. Patients of the infection become dependent on medication for the rest of their lives. They have to be particularly cautious of taking each medicine at the prescribed time because missing a dosage can be detrimental.

The treatment also comes with a few side effects. However, because ART entails a customized treatment plan for each patient, the side effects also differ from individual to individual.

Some common side effects that you’re likely to experience are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Feelings of Weakness
  • Abnormal Levels of Cholesterol
  • High Blood Sugar

How Do You Know If the Treatment Is Working?

Your level of the viral load will effectively depict if the medication is working. Your doctor will monitor both your viral load and CD4 T cell count once you begin treatment. Your viral load should be tested every 3-4 months, and your CD4 T cell count should be checked every 3-6 months.

Once your viral load reached undetectable levels, you can rest assured that the treatment has worked. However, it’s important to remember than an undetectable level of the virus does not mean you are cured. You still have the virus, and if you stop taking the medication, the virus will soon become detectable again.

Read More: HIV and AIDS Overview

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373531

https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/21/51/hiv-treatment–the-basics#:~:targetText=Antiretroviral%20therapy%20(ART)%20is%20the%20use%20of%20HIV%20medicines%20to,HIV%20live%20longer%2C%20healthier%20lives.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642329/

https://aidsfree.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/gh_guidelines_arv_therapy.pdf

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Herpes Information

Genital herpes is recognized as a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the Herpes simplex virus.

Herpes simplex virus, however, is of two types, namely: Type I and II. While type II is the main cause of genital herpes, Type I, although not prevalent, can also cause it.

It is transferred from one person to another person during sexual intercourse. As a matter of fact, even if the symptoms of the virus have not begun to manifest on the carrier, it can, and will still be communicated, as long as there is sexual contact.

Product: One Step Gonorrhea Test

Product: Right Sign Gonorrhea Test

An interesting point of note, however, is, using protection like condoms or being ‘careful’ does not guarantee protection from the transmission of this infection. The reason being that while condom protects a major part of the sexual organ of the uninfected partner (mostly the man), the uncovered skin could still provide enough room for the transmission of this virus.

The disadvantage of relying on the appearance of symptoms before checking your status is that for genital herpes, the symptoms may not manifest until months or even years, after contracting the disease. Unfortunately, just like earlier mentioned, you can still transmit the infection to your subsequent sexual partners.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

What then are the Symptoms of Genital herpes?

With the alarming rate of these viral infections, it is highly important to project the symptoms to reduce its spread in Africa. Africa is still well behind the western world in the control of viral infections like these.

In almost all cases of genital herpes, all or some of the following symptoms have always presented themselves, depending on the type of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) involved, and the duration of contracting the infection before treatment begins.

The skin around the genital areas of an infected person is, mostly, cracked and dry and/or the evidence of reddened areas around the genitals that present, initially, without itching, pain, or any tingling sensation.

Read More: Genital Herpes Overview

Genital Herpes – if left untreated

If still left untreated, small blisters begin to crack up into painful sores. It is usually noticed around the sexual organ or anal region – including the butt. Also, it could be discovered on the inner thighs close to the perineum, even the lower or rectal area.

Occasionally, the blisters could present inside the urinary tube called the urethra – a tube enclosed within the body of the female and the penis of the male that serves as a conduit for carrying urine outside the body.

Subsequently, there is painful urination, especially seen in females. This occurs as a result of the open sores around and on the urinary opening.

Conclusively, below, is a list of profound symptoms common to both genders:

  • Cracked, raw, or red areas around the genitalia without pain, itching, or tingling;
  • Tingling sensation or itching around the genitalia or anus;
  • Infected persons also suffer headaches as a result of this infection;
  • Backaches can be very frequent with infected persons;
  • Flu-like symptoms also occur in infected persons. These symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. 
  • Headaches;
  • Fever, incessant fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes are also symptoms that manifest from this condition.

There is no cure for general herpes, but the symptoms can be lessened and prevented with treatment.

Read More: Gonorrhea Treatment