List of common STDs in Africa with numbers in 2019

List of common STDs in Africa with numbers in 2019 Image

STD, sexually transmitted disease, as the name suggests, is an infection that passes from one person to another through sexual intercourse. As of today, there are 20 types of STDs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, HIV, and a few more. 

These are the acknowledged diseases & advancements, and vaccines are being developed for the same now and then. Usually, these diseases can be contracted by both men and women, but the health problems faced by women are more severe.

STDs happen mostly due to viruses, bacteria, and parasites. There is a cure for bacterial and parasitic transmission but no vaccine or drug for an STD caused by a virus. Although there are medicines to control the symptoms, there is no cure.

  • In Africa, the statistical data states that Gonorrhoea is the most transmitted STD, which cause some specific disease to women and men. 
  • The stats for syphilis are also high in Africa, considering the late recognition of symptoms makes it more dangerous. 
  • A survey conducted by UNAIDS states that in 2017 around 37 million people were diagnosed with HIV and that 66% of patients were from South Africa.
  • Apart from Gonorrhoea, AIDS is a serious health disease in South Africa. 
  • Considering the United Nations statistical data gathered in 2019, Africa has the highest rate of people diagnosed with the disease and globally, the country ranked 4 with an adult HIV prevalence rate.
  • There was a 2019 survey that stated a meta-analysis, wherein 14% of transgender women have HIV. And going by the race and creed factor, 44% of Africans suffers from the same.

It was WHO survey that estimated the data of:

  • 3.5 million = Syphilis
  • 15 million = Chlamydia 
  • 16 million = Gonorrhoea 
  • 30 million = Trichomoniasis

And it occurs every year. 

Are The Stats Going Up or Down In Africa?

These statistics are far worse when one compares it to other countries. One must take STDs very seriously considering their widespread prevalence. 

  • If we look at the growing diseases in Africa apart from the above mentioned then, Herpes simplex virus infection and human papillomavirus are rising in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. STDs have different treatments; usually, if the diseases portray one of the four syndromes, the treatment then preferred is syndromic.
  • The rising number of diseases in Africa suggests that the country should opt for a strategically found solution to slow down the spread of this disease. The control solution can include ways to prevent disease, screening, and the early diagnosis and treatment of the same.

STDs are one of the most dangerous diseases that can have long term effects, and it is better to get oneself checked before it’s too late.

References

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12348788/#:~:text=Sub-Saharan%20Africa%20ranks%20first,30%20million%20cases%20of%20trichomoniasis

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000753/

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/transgender/index.html

Hygiene And STD

Hygiene And STD Image

STD for the sexually transmitted disease is very common nowadays, in the states, there are 20 million STD cases each year. The majority of the cases belong to the Teenage group. 

The major questions that arise over here are as follows:

Do we get STD from having sex? Do pills protect against STD’s?

We need to understand a point over here, that if you have sexual contact with multiple partners and you don’t use any protection, this leads you to severe damage. Unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex can lead you to STD’s or STI’s. It can even happen with the sharing of sex toys. 

Does Being Hygienic Have Any Role In The Prevention of STD’s?

You need to understand that being hygienic can help you in tackling any such situation. From being hygienic, we are referring to a situation where you are fully aware of being neat and clean before or during having any sexual contacts or sex. 

  • You should use properly clean sex toys and use a new packet of condoms every time you are having sex. 
  • Reusability of any such thing can lead you to two sexually transmitted infections.

Some prevalent STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis

  • STI’s like herpes and syphilis can increase the risk of HIV acquisition.
  • HPV infections are the major causes of cervical cancer and deaths every year.

There are several kinds of antimicrobial resistance drugs that are available in the market for the prevention of STD’s and STI’s.

It Is Important To Educate The Youth About The Relationship Between Hygiene And STD’s

There is a global reformation by WHO for the treatment of STD’s, which includes educating the youth on the consequences they might have to face if they don’t follow hygiene during sexual intercourse.

Some of the preventive measures are:

  • Pre-exposure vaccination: HPV vaccination is recommended for boys and girls in the teenage so that they don’t face any consequences of STD’S.
  • Reduction in the number of sex partners: One of the major things is to know your sex partner and his or her health. Getting yourself checked and sharing the result with your partner serves as the best medium of making sure that you are going to have no problems.
  • Using condoms: it is one of the most effective ways, latex condoms are highly effective in the prevention of HIV infection or any kind of sexually transmitted disease. It even helps you in reducing the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, herpes, hepatitis b, or syphilis.

Final Words

Hence, we can see that STD’s are one of the major health issues that are growing every year. There should be sex education in school with WHO guidelines, and there should also be proper education for the teenagers in regards to any sexually transmitted disease. 

If you are aware of the consequences, you will take precautions.

References:

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

https://helloclue.com/articles/sex/stis-common-questions-and-misconceptions

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

COVID-19 Has Interrupted STD Screenings; Sexual Health Centers Are Concerned

COVID-19 Has Interrupted STD Screenings; Sexual Health Centers Are Concerned Image

When the cases of COVID-19 started increasing at a faster rate, most of the countries announce lockdown. With the interest of the public, and proper obedience, the stay at home order came into action. During this sexual health centers in some places were allowed to keep their operations going on. 

  • The decision taken was not to cause any negligence and delays in STD screenings, which can lead to further problems. 
  • Sexual health centers had an order to remain open under a few conditions that they stop elective procedures and follow social distancing norms. It was to be taken care of by both the patients and staff.

However, things didn’t go as easy as it sounds. The safety measures involved to prevent coronavirus interrupted the walk-in testing for STDs in some of the health centers. Most of the centers were those that served patients without any health insurance. 

  • People were scared of getting exposed to the risk of COVID-19 by going for check-ups. So, this led to fewer people getting tested. It is a worrying fact as it may lead to an increase in the rates for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea
  • In Philadelphia, a survey conducted by the National Coalition of STD Directors, came out with an estimate that 83% of STD programs have stopped, and no community visits are happening. 
  • Around 66% of clinics reported that STD screening and testing had been decreased due to the pandemic. 

Importance of STD Screenings

It is important to undergo STD screening, if you are sexually active, especially with multiple partners. It is to prevent the risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and stay protected. To take care of this, usually, people go to clinics and health care centers to get tested. However, there’s another option.

  • Nowadays, screening kits are gaining popularity to deal with this problem. 
  • The use of at-home screening kits is available for STIs like HIV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea. 
  • To test STI at home, you need to collect a urine sample, an oral, or a genital swab. This sample will then go to a lab for analyzing purposes. 

To conduct certain tests, more than one sample is required. The benefit of screening kits is that you get the privacy to collect your samples without the need to visit a health care center or doctor.  

However, the samples collected through the screening kits don’t always provide accurate results. So, you need to contact your doctor or visit a public clinic to get the results confirmed, in cases where your test result was negative, but you are experiencing symptoms.

Final Words

The concern of sexual health centers regarding STDs is fair. However, in these challenging times, the best possible solution seems to be in the use of screening kits by most of the people.

References:

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/staying-in-hiv-care/other-related-health-issues/coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/930983

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/covid-19/index.html

How Does the New Coronavirus Affect the People with Tuberculosis And HIV?

How Does the New Coronavirus Affect the People with Tuberculosis And HIV?

Since the initial coronavirus outbreaks back in early December 2019, which happened in Wuhan, China, we keep learning more and more about this new and potentially deadly virus. And so, we have learned that we have been introduced to a cruel virus that does not hesitate when it comes to taking more and more lives. 

Today we are faced with a global pandemic. We have been instructed to self-isolate and stay home, avoiding any human-to-human contact as much as possible. These measurements of precaution are meant to protect us and the ones that we love, especially those who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease of any kind.

In today’s article, we will discuss the impact that the new coronavirus supposedly has on some of the most vulnerable ones – those who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS and/or have been diagnosed with tuberculosis. We will also discuss the socioeconomic impact that this virus has on countries such as Africa and India where tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS rates are supposedly the highest of them all. 

Tuberculosis and HIV patients exposed to a higher risk of the new coronavirus

Since it first appeared, COVID-19 has taken many people’s lives. This new virus managed to overflood, what we thought was, a well-functioning health system in many highly developed countries such as the USA, Italy, China, Russia, etc. While some of them have managed the situation better than others, nothing is over yet. We are yet to face the negative results that are to come from this whole experience. 

But the question is – Is the coronavirus has managed to have such a great impact on highly developed countries, what happens to countries such as India and Africa where we see poor socioeconomic conditions every day? And what happens to the most vulnerable people of them all – those living with HIV/AIDS and/or tuberculosis?

Africa has dangerously high sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates. But it is HIV/AIDS that interests us the most, as a chronic disease that has a significant impact on the body’s immune system, thus making it less possible for it to fight a dangerous virus such as the coronavirus. And then we also have India, where every day we see new patients diagnosed with tuberculosis – a chronic respiratory disease that interferes with the function of the respiratory system and weakens the immune system. 

Both HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis create the perfect environment for the new coronavirus to take over the body, causing a more serious infection to happen, possibly even causing death. 

Multiple factors play their part in increasing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis rates on a daily level. Having multiple sex partners, engaging in unprotected sex of any kind, drug and/or alcohol abuse, poverty, etc. are only some of the risk factors that cause the HIV/AIDS rates in Africa to increase. For tuberculosis, poverty, once again plays its part, which allows the infection to rapidly spread.

And then there is the problem of a co-infection, in which the patients struggle with both HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Although there is still no exact scientific data that has fully explored this topic, what we have learned so far is that we need to protect these vulnerable risk groups as much as possible.

For HIV/AIDS that would mean increasing awareness, frequent testing, and effective treatment with antiretroviral therapy. As far as we know, patients who receive proper treatment for HIV/AIDS and with that successfully control their symptoms, are not exposed to a bigger risk for COVID-19 as compared to the general population. However, that is not the case for those whose infection remains uncontrolled and so, we ought to control it as best as we can, using the therapy that we have at our disposal. 

The same rule applies to those struggling with tuberculosis. These patients need the required treatment as soon as possible, in a combination with self-isolating and social distancing to prevent being affected by the new coronavirus.    

Conclusion

We are faced with some hard times and conditions, some of us more than others. It is especially important for people diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to get tested and acquire the recommended treatment in time, as a prevention method for the new COVID-19. It is countries such as Africa and India, where the rates of these diseases are dangerously high, that need to implement frequent testing and act to raise awareness among the population to help protect them against the symptoms and possible death due to COVID-19.

References

https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hiv-tuberculosis-coronavirus-high-risk-africa-south-asia/2020/04/08/78820db6-737d-11ea-ad9b-254ec99993bc_story.html

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

https://www.usaid.gov/global-health/health-areas/tuberculosis/technical-areas/tuberculosis-india

What The US Can Learn from Rwanda on Dealing with Cervical Cancer

What The US Can Learn from Rwanda on Dealing with Cervical Cancer Image

It’s hard to believe that there is something a small nation like Rwanda can teach the US (a first world country).  But surprisingly there is- Rwanda made history by becoming the first African nation to launch a countrywide cervical cancer prevention program.

In 2010 that country entered an agreement with Merck pharmaceuticals to vaccinate Rwanda girls against Human Papilloma Virus(HPV).  In 2013, the country started immunizing girls aged 11 to 12 against HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer.  

So, it’s no surprise that today they have a 93%  vaccination rate among adolescent girls. The approach that Rwanda took to reduce the rate of cervical cancer in the country proves that we can eliminate cancer across the world if we achieve high vaccination coverage.

So how did a country that was once ranked the poorest in the word eliminate cervical cancer, when high-income like the US and France couldn’t achieve high vaccine coverage?

The truth is it wasn’t easy! There were lots of cultural barriers against the vaccine program, and talking about sex was taboo in the country.  Also, there were rumors that the vaccine could make Rwanda women infertile, so some parents were hesitant to allow their daughters to be part of the program.

However, Rwanda enlisted the help of an army of educators- teachers, community health workers, church leaders and nurses to educate its people on the importance of the vaccination. Now even the US cannot compete with Rwanda in HPV vaccination coverage.

Over 8 million American teens are currently suffering from some kind of HPV virus. The country reports over 4,000 women die of cervical cancer and over 13,000 are diagnosed with it every year.  But still, its only 49% of the adolescent teen between the age of 13 to 17 who have received HPV vaccines.

The low rates of immunization against HPV in the US are contributed by the myth that the vaccine increases promiscuity and its dangerous.  These kinds of bogus claims hinder the efforts of the Government and Big Pharmaceuticals in combating cervical cancer prevalence in the County.

Luckily, there is still hope. In May 2019,  the VACCINES Act was introduced to the House. If the bill passes, it will allow funding for the CDC to carry out research on the vaccine averseness and increase public awareness on the benefits of the HPV immunization.

States are also taking action- Virginia, District of Columbia, and Rhode Island require students to get vaccinated for HPV before they join secondary school. Other states have passed laws to permit minors to undergo HPV vaccination even when the parent is against it.

The cost of Cervical cancer is high, and it involves a painful surgery, therefore prevention is the best solution. Australia and Scotland have already made plans to follow in the footsteps of Rwanda. 

It’s therefore prime time for the US to participate by increasing immunization rates through HPV vaccination for both boys and girls and the house passing the VACCINES Act.

References

http://www.moh.gov.rw/index.php

https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/456933-the-us-can-learn-from-rwanda-on-stamping-out-cervical-cancer

https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/91/9/12-116087/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662515/

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/27662069/4877733.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3790215/

Mental Health and STD

Mental Health and STD Image

Mental health refers to behavioral patterns that affect the way you think, feel, and act.  Mental health relates to STDs in a complex way and the stigma results in unifying thread that causes harm in many ways, as research shows.

Even though STIs pose a real threat to public health, the World Health Organization says that over 300 million cases of STIs occur globally such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and syphilis, can be easily treated and prevent.

But the funny thing is that we understand more about the physical effects of STIs more than its emotional and mental implications. Sure, STIs are treatable but most people who contract it suffer from stigma and shame.

As they try to confront the shame and guilt some of them end up developing stress and other mental problems. In fact, most people dealing with STIs go through severe depression, stress, anxiety, sadness, and other conditions without knowing.  Sometimes these conditions can be so traumatic.

Common conditions of mental health problems

Depression

This is one of the most common mental health conditions and can range from mild to acute. The symptoms of depression can affect your daily life activities.  Both treatment and the guilt of having STIs can lead to depression.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Feeling sad and anxious all the time.
  • Not enjoying the activities that used to be fun.
  • Feeling restless, frustrated, or irritated all the time.
  • Lack of sleep or waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Concentration trouble.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Worry

Being worried all the time means you’re concerned about something. It’s quite normal to feel worried, especially if you contract STI.

You might be worried about how STI will affect your relationship or sex life, or if you have passed the STI to your sexual partner.  You may also be worried about how people will perceive you once they know you have an STD.

Being worried and anxious all the time might have a huge impact on how you carry out your daily activities.

Anxiety

 Anxiety usually describes the nature of worry and its effect on your daily activities. The longer you keep on thinking about something, the more anxious you become. This is common when your STI result is negative, but you still feel uneasy.  You might find yourself retaking the test or going to the internet to find more information.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Uncertainty, poor memory, poor concentration, intrusive thoughts.
  • Withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, appetite, drug abuse, change in social activities
  • Rapid heart rate, chills, nausea, fatigue, headaches.

Here is what you can do when you’re worried, anxious, or depressed:

Talk to a counselor: Talking to someone who has experience in helping people who worry a lot or have anxiety issues can help you. 

Talk to your partner: If you’re in a relationship, it’s wise to inform your partners about your condition so he/ she can go for testing and receive medication. 

Only use reliable sources to find information: The internet is full of information, some are outdated, others are misleading. So when searching for information for STDs, make sure it’s from a reliable source. If you can help it! Don’t search for any information because it can increase your anxiety or worry.

Practice safe sex:  If you really can’t abstain from sex then practice safe sex by using dental dams, condoms, and getting vaccinated.

Seek treatment:  Always go for regular checkups with your partner. This is also crucial because some STDs are asymptomatic. Make testing a regular part of your routine.

Even though it’s important to focus on your physical health during treatment and recovery; remember to take care of mental health because it’s just as important.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15617367/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000753/

https://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/fulltext/2004/01000/mental_health__a_powerful_predictor_of_sexual.4.aspx

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24324756/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14695951/

https://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2004/2004-12-vol10-n12/dec04-1965p917-924

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8113895_Mental_health_disorders_and_sexually_transmitted_diseases_in_a_privately_insured_population

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796823/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796823/

Medical Marijuana May Lead to Having More Sex

Medical Marijuana May Lead To Having More Sex- New Study Image

Marijuana is famous for its many benefits including treating chronic pain, decreasing opioid abuse, improving life satisfaction, and heightening libido. Many countries have legalized the use of marijuana and CBD drugs for medical purposes.  They’ve designed laws and guidelines that ensure that psychotropic substances and precursors are only used for medical and scientific purposes. However, a recent study has shown that the legalization of Marijuana has led to increased sexual activity, especially sex in people between the age of 20 and 30 years.

Scientists also discovered that cannabis makes people reluctant to use contraceptives, which in turn leads to increased birth rates.

How Does Marijuana Affect Your Sex Behavior?

Marijuana increases relaxation, sensory perception, diminishes anxiety as well as enhancing senses that contribute to increased sexual drive.  

The dose of marijuana in the body affects sexual desire or men and women differently.

High and low doses of marijuana increase libido or sexual desire in women. However, high doses of Marijuana diminish libido in men, but low doses increase their sexual arousal.

High doses of marijuana in men reduces sexual desire in men because it affects the normal functioning of the smooth penial muscles.  This can even lead to erectile dysfunction.

Also, research has found out that heavy use of Marijuana reduces sperm counts in men, especially those who smoke it.

Marijuana stimulates the regions in the brand that’s associated with sexual arousal and activity. This explains the increased libido in both men and women who use it.

Negative Effects of Marijuana

Even though you might experience enhanced relaxation and sexual experience, marijuana usage may also lead to some negative effects.

Continuous use of Marijuana increases the likelihood of unprotected sex. Studies carried out in a State that has legalized Marijuana, discovered a drop in condoms for sale, contraceptives use, and increased childbirth rate. 

The study however cannot determine if the failure to use contraceptives is intentional or because of impaired judgment.

But it highlights that sensory effects from Marijuana may change the user’s attitude towards sexual risks by making them less apprehensive about the outcomes of sexual intercourse, leading in reduced contraceptive use.

Either way, this had led to increased birth rates in non-married couples. Evidence from studies also suggests there is a temporary increase in STDs like gonorrhea.

So, What Can We Learn from This?

The legalization of Marijuana is done with the best intention in mind and it mostly leads to increased sex and fertility, which are both positive and negative.

Marijuana might solve those seeking fertility treatment, but its side effects like increased STIs and childbirth rates can strain the social services.

It’s therefore important for policymakers to place these factors into consideration before legalizing marijuana.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6522945/

http://med.stanford.edu/news.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171027085539.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171027085539.htm

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/27/560268250/does-smoking-pot-lead-to-more-sex

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/amp/articles/319907

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html

Can Women Catch Diseases Off Toilet Seats?

Can Women Catch Diseases Off Toilet Seats? Image

Many women are skeptical about using public toilets because they fear to pick up Sexually Transmitted Diseases like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other genital infections.  If they use these toilets, most of them end up crouching instead of sitting on the toilet seat.

So is this claim true?

It’s very unlikely to catch any contagious infections from toilet seats because most of the STIs cannot survive on the cold surfaces; they cannot live outside the human body.  They also often transferred via contact with infected membranes and open cuts.

HIV and Hepatitis B do not readily transmit through intact skin like and parasites are usually spread through sexual contact or by contact by infected person clothing or towels.

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that someone can catch a venereal disease from using a public toilet.

The only way you can get an STI from a public toilet is by rubbing a mucous membrane or open wound all over the fluids left by someone who used the toilet previously.

The only STI with a plausibility of being transmitted to persons via a public toilet seat is an STI parasite.

Apart from being transmitted through sex, they can be picked from contact with moist or damp objects like a toilet seat, if the genitals are in close contact with the moist object.

But as we said earlier, toilet seats don’t provide an ideal environment for a parasite to live or reproduce. Also, to be infected your genitals must be in close contact with the parasite while still alive on the toilet seat.

The infections you can get from using a public toilet seat

Even though the chance of getting STIs like gonorrhea or chlamydia is near to zero, there are other bacteria you can get from toilet seats.

Here are the infections you might get:

E. coli (Escherichia coli) is often found in feces. Toilets seats provide a suitable breeding area for these bacteria.  The bacteria is usually located in your gut, but if you’re subjected to it from non-porous toilet seats, then you can suffer from abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Streptococcus is a bacterium that we usually carry on our skin. If you share a toilet with someone carrying the bacteria, then you might become colonized by the bacteria.   The bacteria cause bronchial, pneumonia, and strep throat. Many bathrooms and toilets harbor this bacterium.

Shigella bacteria are transmitted between people when they don’t wash their hands thoroughly.  The infections of these bacteria are alike to that of E. coli and they get transmitted when an infected person’s feces contaminate a toilet seat, lids, and handles.  

How to protect yourself from picking up bacteria from public toilets

Luckily there are numerous ways to prevent yourself from contracting bacteria in the public toilet, including:

Regulate what you go with to the toilet, especially your smartphone. If you carry any belongings into the toilet, just leave your smartphone in your pocket or purse. And if you use it in the toilet, wipe it with alcohol-based wipes.

Don’t put your purse on the restroom surface. Place it on a hook, avoid placing them in restroom surfaces completely.

Wash your hand thoroughly after using public toilets if you want to avoid catching as many germs and bacteria as possible.

Dry your hand with your towel or use it to switch off the faucet and open or close the toilets door. The fewer restroom surfaces you come into contact with, the less your exposure to bacteria and germs.

Although it’s nearly impossible to contract an STI from a public toilet seat, many bacteria are living in public bathrooms and toilets. Therefore, it’s wise to follow precautions to minimize your exposure to bacteria as much as possible.

References

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

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028132

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1744865/

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

https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/sites/default/files/assets/1/AssetManager/2005%20Hand%20Hygiene%20Survey%20Key%20Findings.pdf

https://aem.asm.org/content/81/2/765.full

Top Most Popular Plants for Treating STIs in Africa – Do They Work?

Top Most Popular Plants for Treating STIs in Africa – Do They Work? Image

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a widespread problem and a serious global issue. But, for the African population, these treatable and easily avoidable infections pose an even bigger threat. 

Out of the 37 million people living with HIV, 66% are in the sub-Saharan African region. 

Since not many families have the funds to get treatment, more and more are getting infected. Some even transfer their infection to their unborn child. 

In recent years, however, rural communities, particularly in South Africa, have taken interest in medicinal plants to cope with the rise in STIs. We’ve compiled all the research on this alternate medicine, and whether or not it can be effective. 

Medicinal Plants for Treating STIs in Africa

According to the South African Journal of Botany, there are 33 plant species and 23 combinations of herbal medicine used for treating STIs and other similar infections. Roots are the most popular addition to a soothing concoction. 

The sheer number of these plants shows just how important medicinal plants are in rural African communities. The truth is, people prefer plants over conventional medicine. They believe in their therapeutic properties and potent compounds. 

In fact, medicinal plants are the go-to choice in Africa for treating all kinds of diseases. From skin conditions to flu-like symptoms. But, when it comes to treating STIs, only a couple of the plants stand out. Some of the more popular options are:

  • African potato (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) 
  • The Weeping wattle (Peltophorum africanum), 
  • Senecio (Senecio serratuloides)
  • Rosemary

How Effective Is Alternative Medicine for STI Treatment

People use these remedies for treating genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, external, and internal sores, including AIDS symptoms. Based on clinical studies, these plants do contain some therapeutic properties. 

They are packed with anti-oxidant and phenolic compounds, which can serve as an effective antiseptic. They have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits that can soothe the symptoms. In the case of a parasitic disease, like STIs, it makes sense to use such types of plants. 

However, the full extent of their properties, effects, and mechanisms remain unknown. The anti-fungal compounds can reduce the activity of infectious diseases, but there is not much research on how well will their compounds work. 

While the bioactive properties in these plants can come in handy in complementary medicine, they might not be enough to treat these diseases completely. Especially if the infection has already built up a resistance. That’s why proper, more powerful antibiotics will come in handy. 

Final Thoughts

For a long time, people have been relying on medicinal plants to treat a range of different illnesses. But as the environment changes, so do these infections, eventually becoming more difficult to treat. Medicinal plants can be useful, but there is a limit to what they can do. Sometimes it’s best to rely on both natural and conventional sources to treat more serious infections. 

References: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742237/

https://knepublishing.com/index.php/SJMS/article/view/4691/9300

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236010860_MEDICINAL_PLANTS_FOR_THE_TREATMENT_OF_SEXUAL_TRANSMITTED_DISEASES

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629911000512

Molluscum Contagiosum in Africa

Molluscum Contagiosum Image

Africa has a warm tropical climate. Researchers have observed that molluscum contagiosum is more prevalent in warm climates with lightly dressed children. In Mali, the disease is among the common dermatoses in children.

According to Medscape,  child molluscum is prevalent in some regions of Africa like Papua New Guinea. More than 52% of children over two years and 17% of an entire village population in the East Africa region suffered from lesions that resulted from a molluscum contagiosum outbreak. Scientists attributed the outbreak to the warm climate and poor hygiene conditions.

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection caused by a poxvirus (of the Molluscipox Virus genus).  The infection results in the formation of round, smooth pearly lesions that occur anywhere on the body. 

The lesions appear mostly on the neck, face, genitals, legs, and abdomen either in groups or alone. It can last for six to twelve months and as long as four years. In children, it’s a minor problem but unsightly. It’s serious about adults and immunocompromised people like those with HIV

Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum appear as pink, white, fresh-colored lesions with a pit in the center. They’re also pearly, painless, with a size ranging from 2 to 5 millimeters. They cluster, or appear alone anywhere it affects the body. May appear on hands, armpits, face, and any other place that can facilitate skin to a skin infection. Sexually transmitted Molluscum contagiosum appears on genitals, upper thighs, and lower abdomen.

Transmission of molluscum contagiosum

As the name suggests, molluscum contagiosum gets spread highly by skin contact with an infected person. Lesions in the genital area occur because of sexual contact. Swimming in a pool contaminated with the virus can facilitate transmission. The more exposure to the virus, the more chances of developing Mollusca. 

Effect of molluscum contagiosum in people with HIV/Aids?

Immunocompromised people like those with HIV/AIDS are extremely at risk of contracting an infection from molluscum contagiosum. The lesions are more in number and larger and take significantly longer to heal in people with HIV/AIDS. 

Diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum

Diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum can either be done by conducting a biopsy of the cells from lesions or by observing characteristics of the nodules as the molluscum contagiosum has identifiable specific characteristics. 

Molluscum contagiosum treatment 

Treatment of contagious molluscum infection is usually unnecessary because it can go away in immunocompetent people. However, treatment is highly recommended when its larger, numerous, and appears in an awkward place and especially for immunocompromised people.

Treatment involves:

Immunocompromised therapy

Those people with HIV/AIDS and other conditions that are immunosuppressant are prescribed with immune-boosting therapies and Antiretroviral drugs. Intralesional interferon has been used despite its undesirable side effects but has been observed to work well in healthy people. 

Topical treatment

Iodine, podophyllotoxin cream, salicylic acid, cantharidin, and tretinoin. Podophyllotoxin is recommended for men, rather than pregnant women, because of its toxic effects on the fetus.

Oral treatment

Oral treatment usually applies to pediatric patients who are afraid of the pain associated with pricking or squeezing the lesions. Oral cimetidine is painless, safe, and can be administered by parents at home.

Physical removal

This technique is painful and mostly done on adults. It’s inadvisable to do it by yourself because you may infect other parts of the body or risk spreading to others. 

Curettage (removal by piercing and scrapping off the cheesy part), cryotherapy (freezing the nodules by using nitrogen), and use of laser therapy are among the physical methods of molluscum contagiosum lesions.

Prognosis of Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum lesions are more persistent in people with immunocompromised systems, while in healthy people, they disappear after 6-12 months on their own.  If the lesions aren’t treated earlier,  it might take up to 5 years to get rid of it. Early treatment helps in getting it under control and by stopping its spread.  About 35% of healed patients got re-infected with the virus. Reasons for recurrence are yet unknown.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8641888/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12639455/

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/910570-overview#a3

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/molluscum-contagium

https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/molluscum-contagiosum/treatment.html

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/molluscum-contagiosum-treatment

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/molluscum-contagiosum/