Why Is Important To Get Tested For STDs During Pregnancy?

Why Is Important To Get Tested For STDs During Pregnancy? Image

When it comes to the common STDs and the harmful complications that they could lead to, it seems that no one is spared. Adults, children, and even pregnant women and their babies in the womb can be affected by these dangerous diseases. This means only one thing – proper testing and treatment are crucial during pregnancy, especially for the STDs that can be easily passed to the little one in the womb. 

The importance of getting tested for STDs during pregnancy

An existing STD during the pregnancy period can cause serious complications for both the mother and the baby since many STDs can be easily passed to the fetus. That is why it is very important to get properly tested and treated in case of an existing STD. 

Luckily, the doctors have thought about everything and they have made STD testings a regular part of the prenatal visits for all pregnant women. Screenings for HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and syphilis are done at the first prenatal visit. Gonorrhea and hepatitis C screenings are also recommended to be done throughout the pregnancy.

However, an STD can also develop after these screenings take place. That is why it is very important to consult your doctor if you suspect that you might have been infected with an STD. But many women feel ashamed and afraid to consult their doctors, which is the case in most African countries. 

That is also the cause why so many pregnant women have been affected by STDs in Africa as well. A 2018 study has shown a high prevalence of the common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, among pregnant women with the prevalence being 15%.

And this brings us to a very important topic – the use of portable STD test kits. The portable test kits can be ordered online, offered by Ghana Medicals. Delivered in complete anonymity, they contain everything that you need to take a sample and send it off to a laboratory that will deliver your results in only a few days. Then, you can discuss your results with your doctor in case they are positive.

Potential complications of leaving an STD untreated

We will now discuss the possible complications caused by the most common STDs with the hopes of raising awareness among all pregnant women. We hope that it is the fear of these complications instead of the fear of testing and treated an STD that you will feel and make you want to get protected and treated as soon as possible.

Syphilis and HIV can infect the baby while it is still inside the womb. On the other hand, chlamydia and genital herpes can be passed on the baby as it is being delivered through the infected birth canal. Here are the biggest concerns and risks to unborn babies due to untreated STDs.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5857256/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5967814/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6293753

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2039031

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/480010

Children as Victims of STDs in Africa

Children as Victims of STDs in Africa Image

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have caused us troubles for centuries now. From the time when they were first identified as a threat until now, we have seen STDs affecting millions of people around the world, causing some troubling symptoms and even more troubling and potentially life-threatening complications. 

But it seems that some groups of people living in certain parts of the world have it worse than others. A good example, as researchers suggest, are children living in Africa. It should not come as a surprise since we are very well aware of the majority of the STD-infected population living in Africa with that being most commonly women and children, including newborns that have been infected with a dangerous STD either during pregnancy or during birth due to the lack of proper testing and treatment did.

STD-infected children living in Africa

If you are wondering how many STD-infected children there are currently living in Africa, know that the majority of HIV-infected children, with that being 91%, are African children. In Africa, AIDS, caused by HIV, remains the leading cause of death in adolescents. AIDS is also the reason why there are so many orphaned children, such as Zimbabwe where approximately 74% and South Africa where 63% of the orphaned children have lost both of their parents due to HIV/AIDS.

Other commonly diagnosed STDs among children are herpes and chlamydia which, unlike HIV and syphilis can be passed during pregnancy, are transmitted during birth. Many children also lose their lives at birth because of these dangerous STDs. Stillbirth and miscarriage are two complications that we often see happening during pregnancy and birth because of untreated STDs.

Researchers working on a study published back in 2014 tried to identify the causes of the high STD prevalence in children and women living in Africa. The study listed the following reasons as to why there are so many STD-infected children, especially female children, that is, living in Africa.

  • Poverty;
  • Neglect;
  • Inequality.

Living in rural areas of Africa is one of the common risk factors. Practicing in unsafe sex is the main risk factor and method of transmission for STDs in both adults and children. Engaging in sex, unprotected sex, that is, from an early age also increases the risk for children to get infected with one, or often multiple STDs at a time. 

Children being forced to engage in sexual intercourse is not uncommon for these parts of the world as well, thus explaining the high number of STD cases. For children and adolescents, it is harder to identify the present symptoms and ask for help in time, which would also explain the continuous rise of new STD cases in Africa. 

The fact is that we have to do whatever we can to raise awareness and protect those who are unable to protect themselves. Regular screenings and proper treatment is the key for protecting the youngest that are not spared from the vicious symptoms and complications caused by STDs.

References

https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_Annual_Report_2015_En.pdf

https://www.who.int/woman_child_accountability/ierg/news/ierg_statement_AIDS_1_december_2014/en/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jstd/2014/671085/

How Fear Inhibits HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men

How Fear Inhibits HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men Image

HIV is a potentially life-threatening virus that damages the immune system, causing a disease known as AIDS to develop. It is through unprotected sexual intercourse – including oral, vaginal, and anal that this dangerous virus is being transmitted from one person to another. 

Although HIV is spread all around the world, affecting roughly 34 million people, it seems that Africa is one of the countries with the highest incidence where around 69% of the infected people live. And unfortunately, children are not spared of this horrible disease as well. 91% of infected children with HIV/AIDS are thought to live in Africa

Fear prevents African men from getting tested and treated for HIV

Although for the longest time now, the lack of knowledge has been linked as a contributing factor to the continuous spread of HIV in Africa, it seems that there is an even bigger factor to be considered. We are talking about fear. But when we mention fear, we do not mean fear of the disease itself, but fear of how these people would be treated by other people in their society once they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

A new study published in 2019 in PLoS One has demonstrated the influence of fear upon the decision-making process to get tested and properly treated. The focus of the study has been men and how the feeling of fear influences them in a scenario where they would have to get tested for HIV and then treated if needed. Multiple interviews and surveys with 227 African men have been conducted to gather enough data on the topic.

The men were later divided into three groups – men who were unaware of their HIV status, men who were aware of being HIV positive but not getting any treatment, and men who were aware of their status of being HIV positive and getting properly treated. It was discovered that many men tend to hide their positive HIV status and with that trying to preserve the image that they have created for themselves and are showing to the people in their surrounding environment.

It seems that the men living in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, are afraid to get tested for HIV, contributing to the continuous spread of this disease. The source of their fear is the fact that HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a stigma in Africa and often being linked to feelings of shame and fear, thus resulting in a lack of much-needed action. It seems that the African men fear that their HIV positive status will interfere and lower their masculinity and, therefore, their ability to form and support their families, work, and actively engage in their society. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924471/

http://files.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-hiv-africa

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/

How STIs Prevention Strategies Can Be Implemented In Low-Income African Countries

How STIs Prevention Strategies Can Be Implemented In Low-Income African Countries

The healthcare system in Africa faces a significant problem with sexually transmitted infections. At the moment, many studies focus on the situation in Sub Saharan African regions. Studies also suggest the implementation of more effective strategies to assist in reducing the prevalence of STIs in these low-income regions. 

The Current State Of STIs In Africa

There are several sexually transmitted infections currently considered bothersome subjects by the African healthcare systems. HIV and Aids, along with Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis are all currently at high rates. 

One study explains that the complications of these sexually transmitted diseases are adversely affecting the healthcare system, as well as the population. Some complications noted by the study include pelvic inflammatory disease, respiratory tract morbidity, and conjunctivitis. Several concerns regarding pregnancy and STIs are also noted in the study. This includes ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth. The population is also at risk of infertility due to complications presented by many of these sexually transmitted diseases. 

In up to 49% of cases where ulcers are reported, Chancroid is linked to the occurrence of such symptoms. Chlamydia is also linked to lymphogranuloma venereum in the country, affecting up to 6.1% o the population. 

Implementing Prevention Strategies

There are highly effective prevention strategies that can be used to effectively reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections in Africa. Education plays a key part in allowing success in preventing a further increase in transmission rates of common sexually transmitted infections among the African population. 

Individuals need to be educated from an early age. This would ensure children are equipped with skills to reduce their risk of sexual behavior that would increase their likeliness to become infected with STIs. 

A focus should be placed on safe sex. This would include the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Condoms can help to reduce the risk of being infected with an STI. Safe sex does not only contribute to a reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases but also helps reduce the rate of early pregnancies in teenagers. 

Data related to symptoms of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, and other STIs should also be provided to the population. This would ensure individuals are able to recognize the symptoms and get tested. When diagnosed early, the person has a better chance of treatment providing effective results. An early diagnosis also ensures the individual understand that they should not participate in risky sexual behaviour – as this would cause them to transmit the disease to their sexual partners. 

Prevention strategies should include making STD testing options more available to the population, ensuring individuals can be tested for common STIs frequently. 

There is a high prevalence of certain STIs in Africa. Several low-income areas of Africa are facing a difficult time implementing appropriate strategies to reduce the current rate of STIs in the region. There are several strategies that may provide a reduced incidence of infections and diseases that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2202406

STD Numbers Are Still High: Is Online Dating to Blame?

STD Numbers Are Still High: Is Online Dating to Blame Image

STD numbers have been steadily increasing over the years. The Sub-Saharan African region was ranked as the highest infected area in the world with 15 million cases of chlamydia, 3.5 million syphilis, 30 million trichomonas, and 16 million gonorrheas. And has remained the number one most infected region for years. 

Recently, however, the CDC stated online dating apps could be the reason for the constant increase in STDs around the globe, not just the African population. In fact, statistics have shown that since online dating became popular, gonorrhea rates have doubled and syphilis has increased by five times. For the last decade, even chlamydia went up by 56%. 

These records do seem worrying; but what does online dating have to do with the constant increase in STD rates? Here, we will do a detailed analysis of the effects of online dating, and why does it matter for the African population. But, most importantly, we will talk whether it is to blame for the rising STD rates. 

How Does Online Dating Result in STDs?

Based on statistical analysis, 79% of online daters agree that dating apps are a good way of meeting new people. Most of them find it beneficial that they don’t need to know a lot about their potential partner aside from getting intimate. While 33% of users agree this makes it difficult for them to settle down. But, it’s a more convenient method, than having to look for a partner any other way. 

While there isn’t enough research to effectively link online dating to STDs, it can be a potential concern for many. There are a couple of problems many people have pointed out with online dating, these include:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Lack of communication
  • Failure to promote healthy intercourse

People are getting intimate with someone they barely know. Since online dating makes changing partners a lot easier and more convenient, it has become easier to spread STDs than before. Most people have no idea their partner may carry infection, so they unknowingly get to spread it to a future partner. Therefore, increasing the rates for contracting STDs in Africa and worldwide. 

According to a Dutch study, many individuals seek unprotected sex through online dating, particularly for same-sex intercourse. Many of the participants evaluated in the study were unaware that anal intercourse could also spread STDs. While the reasons differ for every individual, many people did result in having unprotected sex and contracting STDs. 

Why STD Numbers Matter for Africa?

Statistics show, 51.7% of the population in South Africa between the ages of 25 to 34, use online dating apps to find a potential partner. While 13.8% are 18 to 24 years old. Even though hardly as many people in Africa use dating apps as in the U.S., it’s obvious that plenty of people are willing to skip the old-school dating method and go for easier alternatives. 

For Africa, this is a serious issue. Most STDs are a taboo, and getting intimate with a stranger could become a potential problem for STDs. In poorer regions, like this continent, talking about sexually transmitted infections has a higher chance to make dating a lot more difficult. People would rather not publicly disclose their sexual health situation or may not even know they are infected. Both of these problems are present in Africa, and much more likely to happen. 

Also, there is another issue. Recently, fewer people have been using contraceptives to stop spreading STDs, officials announced. Many of which fail to use condoms during intercourse with a spouse. 

Unprotected sex, whether it is oral, anal, or vaginal, can equally spread STDs. Individuals who don’t use these methods of protection, but regularly change partners, are more likely to get infected. 

What Should You Do?

If you prefer online dating, it’s important that you establish boundaries. Have a proper conversation with the potential partner and insist that you use contraceptives. To prevent the onset of any STD, it’s crucial to use condoms, including for same-sex intercourse. Otherwise, you risk exposing yourself to serious infections that could drastically impact your overall health, like HIV for example. 

Even though it’s hard to figure out if online dating is to blame for increased STD rates, it’s safe to say that people should take the right precautions. Not just for themselves, but for their future partners as well. 

References

https://www.statista.com/outlook/372/112/online-dating/south-africa#market-arpu

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12348788

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7576299/Hawaii-health-officials-blame-states-spike-STIs-online-dating.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/10/14/std-online-dating-higher-disease-numbers-linked/3973450002/

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/3/78/htm

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-016-1637-5

https://www.verywellhealth.com/are-internet-dating-sites-endangering-public-health-4118176

HIV A Concerning Factor Among Young Adults In Sub Saharan African Region

HIV A Concerning Factor Among Young Adults In Sub Saharan African Region Image

Human immunodeficiency virus, more commonly known as HIV, is proving to be an increasing concern among the younger population in Africa. Recent studies show a particular concern among younger people aged between 15 and 29. This calls for appropriate strategies to be implemented to reduce the rate at which HIV prevalence in Sub Sahara Africa is rising. 

AIDS Indicator Surveys Data Regarding Sub Sahara Africa

HIV is a disease with no current cure. There are effective treatments available, but many people do not obtain the right treatment at an early stage. HIV rates in Sub Sahara Africa also seem to be a major concern. A recent collection of survey data suggests that action needs to be taken among the younger population in Sub Saharan African regions. 

The study looked at data from three geolocated surveys. Data were collected from the following surveys:

  • Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs)
  • AIDS Indicator Surveys (AISs)
  • United States Agency for International Development Survey (USAID)

Survey data was analysed for the periods 2008 to 2009, as well as for the period 2015 to 2016. 

A total of 113,000 adult individuals from Sub Saharan areas of Africa were included. This accounted for 53,000 young adults. There was a 7.7% prevalence of HIV among young adults in Mozambique. The lowest incidence rate was found in Tanzania, with a prevalence of 2.2% among young adults. At a subnational level, up to 15% of the Sub Sahara African region may be affected by HIV. 

The study found that the areas of Africa with the most concerning number of young adults infected with HIV included:

  • Zimbabwe
  • Mozambique
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia

The high prevalence rates of HIV among young adults were primarily linked to specific factors. These included:

  • Behavioural factors
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Environmental factors

The researchers behind the study do note that environmental variables and economic activity seemed to play the largest role in defining the prevalence of HIV in specific subpopulations.

Researchers do note that further studies are required to assist with providing more accurate data. This can help the healthcare system of Sub Sahara Africa better understand why there is a high prevalence rate of HIV among younger individuals in the area. 

Appropriate action can be taken at this point too. Risky sexual behaviour was considered a major concern when looking at young adults in Sub Sahara Africa. With this in mind, appropriate action may help to yield an improvement in providing education to the young adults and ensuring there is a decline in the rate of such behaviour. The young adult population should also be made aware of HIV symptoms

Several STDs are currently considered to have a high epidemiology in Sub Sahara Africa, including HIV. Recent evidence suggests that there is an increased concern regarding the spreading of HIV in the younger population Sub Sahara Africa too. Appropriate strategies need to be developed to help reduce the rate at which the prevalence is increasing and to provide adequate treatment to those already infected. 

References

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003042

Chancroid In Africa

Chancroid In Africa Image

Some sexually transmitted diseases are more commonly known and more prevalent than others. On the other hand, there are a few STDs that aren’t mentioned as common, yet still poses as a threat to certain populations. An excellent would be Chancroid, a type of sexually transmitted disease that is more prevalent in certain countries. Chancroid in Africa, for example, continues to pose a serious problem for the local population. 

The Impact Of Chancroid In Africa

Chancroid still remains a relatively common problem in a number of countries throughout the world. This is a sexually transmitted infection. It generally causes ulcers in the genital region. The condition is prevalent among the African population. There is also a concern regarding the prevalence of Chancroid in Asia, as well as in the Latin America region. 

In the 1970s, genital ulcers linked to Chancroid was found among 60% of the sub-Saharan African population. Medical experts were able to reduce this to lower than 15% by the year 2005. The disease was considered undetectable in both Kenya and Zambia by the year 2010. This does not mean it has been wiped out – since there are still a few countries in Africa facing a Chancroid epidemic. 

Symptoms Of Chancroid

Symptoms of Chancroid is sometimes associated with the signs of other sexually transmitted infections. The most common symptom that a person would have when infected with Chancroid is usually an open sore that develops on the genitals. The open sores can sometimes also develop around the genitals. 

The open sore is generally called an ulcer. When the cause is confirmed to be Chancroid, the sores will be referred to as chancroids instead. 

The ulcer that develops is likely to bleed. A contagious fluid can be secreted from the open sore. When the fluid comes into contact with another person, the Haemophilus ducreyi, which is the bacteria behind Chancroid, spreads to the other individual. 

In most patients, the ulcer that develops once the person is infected with Chancroid will be painful. 

Can Chancroid Be Treated?

Due to the bacterial nature of Chancroid, the condition is often considered treatable. A doctor will usually need to prescribe a dose of antibiotics for the patient. The use of antibiotics may help to eliminate the bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics could also potentially reduce the scarring that tends to happen when the ulcer heals. 

Chancroid Connection With HIV

Chancroid is not as commonly mentioned as chlamydia, or perhaps even HIV. The disease does, however, still remain a serious threat to certain countries, such as Africa. Infection with the Chancroid sexually transmitted infection also seems to make a person more likely to obtain HIV, further contributing to the HIV epidemic that the world is facing. 

References

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Chancroid-Epidemiology.aspx

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa Image

Recent research has shown that more recent events, which include the eighteenth-century slave trade led to the viral dispersal of the herpes simplex virus. The herpes virus is an infection that exists in two strains: HSV virus type 1 and type 2. The former is commonly transmitted by oral contact and infect its victims around the mouth. But the type 2 HSV is transmitted sexually. 

Until now, there have been lots of misconceptions and assumptions about the origin of this virus in humans. But recently, an Italian team conducted a study on the herpes virus and discovered some surprising facts about its origin and history. 

Type 1 of the herpes virus primarily affects the skin and causes orofacial lesions. While the type 2 herpes virus, which is best described as a sexually transmitted disease is the primary cause of genital herpes experience by many people. 

In recent years, the virus has spread out its tentacles and affected more than 3.7 billion people globally. In the long run, the infection can lead to fatal consequences for anyone. 

During pregnancy, a pregnant woman who is carrying the virus can infect an unborn child upon delivery, and the consequences can be fatal for the newborn.

The Origin of The Herpes Virus

A lot of factors are involved to guarantee a better understanding of the virus. To start with, one needs to grasp some information about its origin and history. To this effect, a research team conducted a study on the virus recently. And the results indicated that the virus might be from a more complex origin than expected. 

It was discovered that the two virus strains (HPV 1 and 2) have firm roots in Africa. It was, therefore, necessary to determine the time in history when the strains left the African continent.

Type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex virus had high similarity with the ones that infected apes in Africa many centuries ago. It is believed that the virus later evolved to infect humans.

The University of Milan and the IRCCS Medea collaborated for the study to become a success. You will find the published version in Molecular Biology and Evolution. Since the virus evolved with their hosts to infect humans, it was apparent that Africa was where the herpes virus type 1 and 2 originated. 

How The Slave Trade Promoted The Spread of The Virus

The mass migration of millions of Africans from the continent into the United States and other countries in Europe made the viral strains that infect many today to leave the continent centuries ago and spread to other parts of the world, including Asia and Europe.

With the aid of technology and archaeological discoveries, scientists have been able to estimate the pace at which these viral strains evolved and gradually infected millions of people worldwide. To date, the herpes simplex virus is among the topmost deadly viral diseases fast ravaging the human population and threatening to wipe it out of extinction if ignored.

Manuela Sironi, who is the study co-author of the research project, opined that the team leveraged some statistically precise methods that permit the dating of most viral origins and how they dispersed. He also said that from the conclusions derived in the study, it was discovered that the strains of the herpes simplex virus type 1 migrated from Africa about 5000 years ago. And the migration of the viral strains of the herpes type 2 didn’t occur until recently during the eighteenth century. 

From the data derived in the study, it was obvious that the existence of the slave trade and mass migration of many African citizens led to the widespread of the viral strains. That is why the prevalence of these viral strains is now higher in the Americas, followed by Africa and less dispersed in other regions of the world.

The fact remains that before the colonization of many African countries, these viral infections existed as minor strains and mostly affected animals and just a few humans. But the emergence of the slave trade into the Americas generated lots of unhealthy habits, unsafe practices, and the mass sexual exploitation that took place led to the aversion of these viral strains from animals to humans. They spread quickly due to unhygienic living conditions too, a condition that was predominant during the slave trade era and pre-colonization.

As these migrants landed in other countries, they were mostly exploited as slave workers and worked for their masters in factories, mills, and farmlands. Subject to an inadequate system of living and untold hardship, this further boosted the longevity of the virus and made it spread easier than before. During this time, humans were unaware of the existence of this deadly disease and its mode of operation. 

Not until many years later, during the era of great discoveries in technology and medicine, did scientists and medical experts conducted research that led to the development of these viral strains.

Although various studies have been conducted on viral existence in humans, lack of adequate archaeological information, history data, made it almost impossible to reach valid conclusions. But, it was not until recently when these group of Italian researchers embarked on this study, that a shocking revelation was made public. 

What Does This All Mean?

It is now a known fact that the slave trade introduced several pathogens into the American continent, of which the herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 are just a few of them. Another pathogen worthy of mention is the Yellow Fever virus. But the majority of these pathogens remained confined to tropical areas for many centuries and only began to spread among humans when they perceived a fertile ground among the populace.

It is believed that further studies will help researchers to gain insight into the resistant nature of the herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2.

References: 

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/7606/20151101/who-more-3-7-billion-people-world-herpes.htm

https://academic.oup.com/mbe/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/molbev/msaa001/5698714?redirectedFrom=fulltext

http://slaveryandremembrance.org/articles/article/?id=A0002

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa Image

Economic development in the African region remains low, and STD risks are an ongoing concern. Out of the 40 million people with HIV, 70% of those infected live in Africa. In 2001, 3 million died from the disease, which made it the fourth deadliest disease on the globe. 

Statistics anticipate a steady decline in the African economy for the following years, but the fiscal crisis due to STDs is unlikely to end. These diseases affect the region on a social and demographic level. Poorer households, children, and women are among the worst affected. 

STDs are arguably the most influential factor for the continent’s economic growth, particularly for poor and developing regions. Africa’s human capital is on a decline, and without adequate health care, preventive methods, nutrition, and medicine, a lot more people will fall victim to STDs

The Demographic-Economic Impact of STDs in Africa

This pandemic affects the economic growth rate in Africa by 2% to up to 4% annually. STDs reduce productivity, labor supply, exports, and increase imports. 

Economic measures, treatment, and prevention programs specifically tailored towards managing these diseases are the key to limiting their effect on the economic growth in the region. 

The Effects of STDs on Labor Productivity

Since STDs have long affected the African region, they’ve massively reduced labor productivity. The annual costs in correlation with the sickness have reduced productivity per employee. The reduction in these costs has lowered profits and competitiveness. 

The decline of the agriculture sector in the African region is a typical example of reduced labor productivity from HIV. Those who carry the infection are unable to work. Individuals who’ve carried STDs for a long time have decreased their fertility rates, which has resulted in a massive collapse in newborns. For the most infected areas, this epidemic has left countless orphans behind, unable to get the education or skills they need to participate in the agriculture sector. 

With the constant increase in mortality rates, there are fewer skilled workers available. With the reduced labor force, the individuals who can work are predominantly the younger generation who lack the skills or knowledge to work in a specific sector, which directly influences the company’s productivity rates. 

As more and more workers take sick leave, productivity is slowly taking a downfall affecting the investments that generate human capital. Since the most affected are women and children, the sectors that focus on employing a general women workforce are at a serious threat of experiencing the economic impact of HIV. 

The Effect of STDs on Labor Supply

STDs or HIV, in particular, affect the labor supply by increasing morbidity and mortality. Certain sectors of the labor market are directly affected. 

In the southern region of the continent, 60% of the workers who work in the mining industry are between 30 to 44 years old, many of whom are infected with STDs. In 2002, records predicted that 15 years in the future, the workforce would decrease by 10%.

Many years later, the impact of the diseases did show a significant change in the workforce, which has forced many companies to find a cost-effective way to reduce the prevalence of HIV and STDs. However, with the increase in health care costs, company-sponsored voluntary testing and counseling programs have become more difficult to implement. 

The Effects of STDs on the Taxable Population

STDs, especially HIV, seriously hinder the taxable population, greatly lowering the available resources for public expenditures like healthcare or educational services. As the tax revenues fall, government incomes slowly decline as well, forcing them to spend more on STD treatments and prevention if they are to create an effective way to get out of the fiscal crisis. 

Each household has to spend more on healthcare services to manage STDs and lose income in the process. The income loss has led to reduced spending, which has taken the investments away from the funeral, healthcare, medication, and education spending. 

According to statistics, households who live with an HIV infected individual spend 50% more on medical expenses than any other non-infected household. Due to the increased costs in treatment, many results in working in the sex industry. The sex industry in the African region adds an additional income to a household. However, it leaves them vulnerable to becoming infected with STDs or transmit the infection onto a sexual partner. 

The Effects of STDs on Exports and Imports

Decreased domestic productivity has a major impact on exports and imports. Decreased life expectancy reduces the GDP in many African regions. From 1990 to 2025, the growth rate is expected to be between 0.56% to 1.47% lower. In 2000, these predictions did show the expected results and had decreased by 0.7% annually from 1990 to 1997. 

There is a massive decline in export income, but a significant increase in imports with expensive medications for STDs and other goods for the healthcare industry coming in at a much higher price. 

As a result, there is no balance between import expenditure and export earnings. This puts a strain on the government budget, resulting in debts by default. To control the debt, African governments rely on international help and economic assistance. 

Government’s Response to STDs in Africa

Multiple governments from the sub-Saharan African region have denied the problem for many years. Some have just recently decided to start addressing the issue. Due to conservative values and underfunding, the prevention of STDs has remained a serious problem in developing regions indirectly affecting the country’s supply chain.

In other words, the STD pandemic in Africa is more than just a medical issue; it’s a major problem for the continent’s economic growth and advancement. Therefore, more medical interventions are necessary to put these diseases under control. Learning about the economic environment in this region can help build sustainable STD programs for managing the conditions.  

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122139/

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001869

https://www.cmi.no/publications/786-socio-economic-effects-of-hiv-aids-in-african

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impact_of_HIV/AIDS

http://www.policyproject.com/pubs/SEImpact/SEImpact_Africa.PDF

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs Image

As governments, experts, volunteers, development partners, and various other agencies gather across the southern and eastern Africa, for one common cause, it shows just how important it is to mass distribute condoms as a pivotal strategy for controlling STDs. 

ESA (The East and South Africa), the home to almost 550 million people, has successfully made notable progress in managing STDs, particularly HIV in the region. Since 2018, ESA has experienced 30% fewer HIV infections as opposed to 2010. As of recent statistics, 1 in 3 women now uses condoms, compared to 1 in 4 in 2010. 

Condoms have played a decisive role in preventing STDs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancies in countless countries, including the African continent. The distribution and production of these products have significantly decreased the rates of STDs in sex workers and the general population. 

In fact, the use of condoms is now higher than ever. In western African countries, now 30% of the younger population between the ages of 15 to 24 use a condom regularly. Yet, STDs still remain a serious issue for the entire continent.

The Importance of Condoms in Africa

Despite all the programs and positive progress, ESA is still the most infected region with STDs and HIV on the globe.  

STDs prevalence rates continue to skyrocket, resulting in a massive increase in STD transmission. The most vulnerable individuals are young women, which account for 25% of the STD infections, HIV in particular. This is where condoms play a vital role in preventing STDs and unplanned pregnancies. 

Condoms are a cost-effective method for managing STDs. They have prevented more than 50 million HIV transmissions since the 80s. While 30% of the population now uses condoms, it’s not enough to tackle the epidemic completely. 

Despite the affordable condom prices, the funding for obtaining condoms in the sub-Saharan African region has reduced over the years. To tackle the infection rates and reduce them to 500 000, it’s important for the government to remain committed, increase their investment, and prevention methods available for the general population, in particular, support the demand for condoms.

Higher Condom Supply Is Necessary

Condoms are a must-have product for the African region. They are effective in managing diseases, but they are also convenient and easy to use, and most importantly, don’t cost as much as other alternatives for preventing and treating STDs. However, right now, there is a huge gap between condom supply and people’s needs. For the ESA and sub-Saharan region, the yearly gap is 3 billion condoms, while the need is 6 billion. 

To end the STD epidemic, it’s crucial to lower maternal deaths by 70% for the next ten years. That’s where tackling the supply and demand problem comes into play. At the moment, there are only five manufacturers that produce condoms for the entire African region. That’s not enough to keep up with demand. 

The Interest in Free Condoms Hinders the Private Condom Manufacturing Sector

In other European, Asian, or American countries, free condoms are considered easier to access. However, commercial ones are considered more appealing, better-quality, and more trust-worthy. People would rather choose a commercial condom rather than a free one. This keeps the private sector in a healthy business environment. But, for many African countries, it’s the complete opposite.

According to statistics, some condom users are more than willing to buy condoms. More than 90% of users in Nigeria will pay for these preservatives, which makes it one of the most important products to invest in. But, the interest in preservatives varies from country to country.

Some regions, like Zimbabwe and Kenya, do have individuals who would pay for condoms, but many of them would rather obtain free preservatives rather than commercial ones. 

The reason for that is the scarce funds. Free condoms in Africa, still remain a more popular prevention tool than paid condoms for the majority of the African population. However, the public sector has a limit to providing free condoms, since they heavily depend on donor support.

This is an unsustainable long-term strategy for supplying condoms to the general population, and it significantly hinders the private sector. 

Tackling the Condom Production Problem

With a limited condom production, the regular supply remains a problem for the African region. To keep up with demand, especially with the ESA region, it’s crucial to identify a plan of urgency for manufacturing condoms for the entire population. Local manufacturing is simply not enough to cover the scale of the epidemic. 

Firstly, to prevent the onset of potential STDs or HIV, billions of more condoms should be produced. Secondly, if more companies manufacture the same product, it will add more competition to the market and help keep the low prices. This strategy will also avoid a stock-out, improve supply chain management and local procurement. 

Thirdly, more companies mean more work, and more work provides more jobs. This kind of environment will promote trade in the entire continent, keep the private sector involved, and save the continent’s currency. 

Currently, UNFPA is working with governments, investors, and manufacturers to bring in more developers and partners for the condom manufacturing business in the region and boost the distribution and procurement capabilities.

UNAIDS has already implemented a strategy with ambitious goals to boost the availability of condoms from 2016 to 2021 to up to 20 billion every year. Instead of the current 30% condom use, the interest in preservatives is expected to increase by 90% for both middle and low-income countries. 

New developers will make condoms more available for the general population and will satisfy the supply and demand for such products to control the epidemic of STDs. With more condoms becoming available, it would be much easier for the population to access these products and prevent the onset of STDs.

References

https://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/news/condoms-joint-positionpaper/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339129/

https://esaro.unfpa.org/en/news/manufacturing-condoms-africa-urgent-health-and-economic-priority

https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2016/february/20160212_condoms

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339129/