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/

Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia in Africa Image

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

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

Symptoms

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

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

Contraction & Diagnosis

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

Treatment  

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

Human T- cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type -2 (HTLV-2) in Africa

HTLV (Type 1 and 2) in Africa Image

Human T- cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type -2 (HTLV-2) are closely related, but distinct retroviruses endemic in Africa.  They are highly transmissible and casually linked to different severe diseases.

An epidemiological study carried out in Gabon revealed that the prevalence of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 is 7.3% and 0.1%, respectively.  The prevalence of these retroviruses has escalated over the years from North to South African, varying from 0.6% in Morocco, to 5% in several sub-Saharan countries like Cameroon, Benin, DRC Congo, and Guinea Bissau.  HTLV-2 is mostly observed in people in Western Africa.

What is (HTLV-1) and (HTLV-2)?

HTLV is a retrovirus that infects the white blood cells called T-lymphocyte/T-cell. These cells play an important role in the body’s immunity. HTLV (also known as the Human T-cell lymphotropic virus )  falls in the same family as HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus), the only difference is that it doesn’t cause AIDS (Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but they’re transmitted in the same way. 

Transmission

HTLV type-1 and type- 2 require cell-to-cell contact for efficient transmission. Transmission occurs through:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy
  • Sharing of needles and syringes
  • Transfusion of cellular blood components
  • Breastfeeding

Signs and Symptoms of (HTLV-1) and (HTLV-2)

HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 generally cause no signs and symptoms, although people infected with HTLV-1 might develop HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic Paraparesis (HAM/TSP), adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), and other diseases. 

About 2% of People infected with HTLV-1 will develop HAM/TSP.  This is a chronic and progressive nervous system disease. Its signs and symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fall
  • Constipation
  • Urinary inconsistency
  • Numbness and pain in the lower limb
  • Low back pains 

In the later years, patients will experience progressive leg weakness, followed by the exasperation of the urinary and sensory symptoms.  While patients might still walk after one or two decades, others might be confident in wheelchairs for months after the onset of the disease. 

Those who will develop ATL – a type of cancer caused by the abnormal multiplication of white blood cell might experience symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Skin rash
  • Fever and sweats
  • Frequent infections

HTLV-1 might also cause arthritis, uveitis, myositis, alveoli is and dermatitis. HTLV-2 isn’t linked to any specific disease, but researcher speculates that it might later result in neurological conditions like:

  • Gait Abnormalities
  • Sensory neuropathies
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Erectile dysfunction 
  • Motor abnormalities

 Diagnosis

Human T-cell leukemia virus, type 1 and type 2 are often diagnosed based on blood tests to identify antibodies to the virus.  

However, most people in Africa suffering from both HTLV-1 and 2 are rarely diagnosed because they never develop any signs or symptoms related to the infection. 

They only to discover they have the virus after undergoing screening for blood donation or blood testing for adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) or HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic Paraparesis (HAM/TSP).

Treatment                                                     

There are no specific drugs or vaccine to date for HTLV-1 and HTLV-2.  They can only be managed if detected early and prevented from spreading to uninfected persons. People with T-cell lymphoma/leukemia can access various treatments, options like chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and antiviral drugs.

Promoting safe sex, discouraging the sharing of needles, and screening can lower the number of infections. Mother to child transmission can be managed and reduced by the screening of a pregnant mother, so they can avoid breastfeeding their babies.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00021234.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901658/

https://jvi.asm.org/content/72/9/7664

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13550289709015802

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2879950/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164244/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678997/

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/high-dose-chemo-and-stem-cell.html

http://htlvaware.com/uploads/2/1/5/5/21557664/htlv_inflam_2014.pdf

Marburg Virus in Africa

Marburg Virus in Africa Image

Marburg virus is believed to have originated from Africa.  The virus has claimed over 100 lives in central Africa. The most recent recorded outbreak was in Uganda in 2017. Other’s sporadic cases and outbreaks have been reported in Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. 

Recently, researchers discovered an Angola-like strain in Fruit bats in Sierra Leone. This marks the first appearance of the deadly Ebola-like virus in West Africa.

What is the Marburg Virus?

Marburg Virus is a rare but deadly virus that causes hemorrhagic fever.  The virus infects the cell lining of the blood vessels and a subsection of the body’s immune cells, resulting in capillaries leaking blood. 

The virus falls in the same Family as Ebola and is the causative agent of Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (MHF).  MHF is a disease with a fatality rate of about 80% and was first discovered in 1967, after a simultaneous outbreak in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and Belgrade in Serbia.

Transmission

Marburg is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans. The Egyptian Rosette fruit bats (Rousettus aesgyptiacus) have been identified as a reservoir host of the virus.  

Once a bat is affected by the virus, it enters its saliva, urine, and feces-  which may be deposited on the surfaces of the fruit when the bat takes tiny bites. The virus is then transmitted to animals and humans who eat these fruits.  

The virus also spreads via close contact with infected persons, their blood, or other body fluid like saliva and semen. 

Sign and Symptoms 

The initial signs of the infection are the onset of sudden fever, aches, myalgia, and chills. As the infection spreads throughout the body, the patient will start experiencing nausea, sore throat, abdominal pains, vomiting, and acute diarrhea. 

The signs and symptoms of the Marburg hemorrhagic fever make it difficult to distinguish it from other infectious diseases such as Malaria, typhoid fever, and other viral diseases. 

Even though it causes severe bleeding, most patients die from circulatory system failure, which triggers shock and multiple organ failure.

Treatment

There are no drugs or vaccines that can fight off Marburg Virus. Usually, treatment is limited to supportive hospital therapy like balancing electrolytes, replacing lost blood, treatment of infections, and maintaining blood pressure and oxygen status. However, there are experimental treatments that are validated primates but are yet to be tried in humans. 

Prevention

Prevention measures against Marburg are not yet well defined, because transmission between wildlife and humans is still an area of ongoing research. Nevertheless, people should avoid contact with fruit bats and primates in West and Central Africa.  In the case of an outbreak, presentation measures of human-to-human and secondary transmission are the same as those used for Ebola and other hemorrhagic diseases.

Why is the Marburg Virus more prevalent in Africa?

Encroachment of humans into the habitats dominated by bats and monkey exposes them to a new set of viral disease these animals harbor that. 

Furthermore, the poor economies of African countries have left many people improvised, and the only way they fend for themselves and makes some little income is by hunting and bushmeat (killing monkey and fruit bats). 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/marburg/symptoms/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1220-marburg-found-in-bats.html

https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/marburg-haemorrhagic-fever

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30883555/

https://www.who.int/csr/don/25-october-2017-marburg-uganda/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447827/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321919/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X04001604

https://www.iamat.org/risks/marburg-hemorrhagic-fever

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

Chlamydia Information

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

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

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

Chlamydia Cases in Africa and the Middle East

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

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

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

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

Current Epidemiological Data

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Using Portable STD Kits and Telemedicine Services in The Time of Coronavirus

The Benefits of Using Portable STD Kits and Telemedicine Services in The Time of Coronavirus Image

For a lot of people, especially the African population, STDs and reproductive health are somewhat of a tabu – topics that are to be discussed in secrecy or to be not discussed at all. The feelings of fear and shame that have been often linked to the topics of STDs and reproductive health are partially the reason why there is an ever-growing number of new STD cases in Africa whereas we see a promising decline while talking about the rest of the world.

Relying on portable STD kits and telemedicine services in the time of coronavirus

Luckily, the researchers and doctors have been working on finding a solution that would help make diagnosis easier and the affected individuals would get properly treated later. The solution lays in the portable STD kits which can be purchased easily online. A perfect example is the portable STD kits offered by GhanaMedicals. GhanaMedicals are offering their portable STD kits for a discounted price to help the fight against STDs in the time of the new coronavirus.

They are offering portable STD kits for Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, genital herpes, and much more. More and more people rely on portable STD kits to let them know if they have been affected by any dangerous STD or not since they get to order their kit anonymously online and do the test at home. Then the sample is to be sent to the laboratory, again in complete anonymity, and the results would be sent in a few days. All of the needed instruction and materials are provided with the portable STD kit. 

But it seems that now, the portable STD kits have gotten a new meaning. Since the new coronavirus outbreak, we are living in fear, as we are encouraged to stay at home and avoid going to the hospital except for emergencies. Having a portable STD kit would certainly make things easier in detecting the presence of STD and asking the doctor for help by using telemedicine services later.

Telemedicine services involve the use of technology and electronic communication to provide proper medical services without the patient visiting their doctor at the office. Using telemedicine services, the doctor can provide advice and even a proper prescription for any medications that are required to be used given the situation. 

Combining portable STD kits and telemedicine services is a great option for keeping the visits at the doctor’s office to a minimum and with that – the rates of coronavirus as low as possible. With this, you will still be able to get a proper diagnosis and treatment and prevent any serious complications that are expected to happen due to untreated STD. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/
https://chironhealth.com/telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine/

What Groups Of People Are Exposed To The Highest Risk Of STDs?

What Groups Of People Are Exposed To The Highest Risk Of STDs? Image

The term STDs stands for sexually transmitted diseases with the term being self-explanatory referring to diseases that are transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. There are many STDs and even more complications than they could potentially lead to if left untreated, however, the following STDs are marked as the most common ones – HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes. 

The number of new STD cases is increasing, despite the hardest efforts of doctors and researchers to raise awareness among the people. However, it is countries like Africa that are marked as high-burden countries in the fight against STDs. For example, 9.1 African adults have been affected by chlamydia back in 2008, whereas genital herpes has affected around 118 million adults (HSV-1) and 19.2 million adults (HSV-2), and with that Africa has been marked as the country with the highest prevalence of genital herpes.

The risk groups that are more likely to get infected with an STD

Over the years we have been able to understand that there are simply some groups of people that have an increased risk of getting infected with an STD as compared to the general population. In the following we will share the potentially high-risk groups of people:

  • Women – African women are more likely to get infected with an STD as compared to be, as research has shown back in 1992;
  • Children – Unfortunately, in Africa, both adults and children are affected, with children and adult women being the most common victims of the different STDs. 91% of the HIV-infected children worldwide are living in Africa;
  • People who have more than one sexual partner – Being in a monogamous relationship is considered to be an effective prevention method for STDs;
  • People who engage in unprotective sex – Practicing unsafe sex is the number one risk factor for STDs;
  • People who live in rural areas – Rural areas have been marked as high-burden, with most of the STD-infected people living there;
  • People who engage in the fish-for-sex phenomenon – In the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, mostly women, but also men, engage in sexual intercourse, most commonly unprotected sex, in exchange for fish that they later use as food or sell for money. This phenomenon has led to a continuous increase in new STD cases;
  • Married people – A study has shown that married people in Swaziland have a higher risk of getting infected with an STD as compared to single people. Researchers suggest that engaging in unprotected sex with a regular partner, or the spouse, in this case, may explain this risk factor.
  • People with a history of STD – A 2009 study has demonstrated how having a medical history that includes one or multiple STDs increases the risk of the infection reoccurring. The focus of the study were women with a past HIV infection who had an increased risk of chlamydial infection.

References

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

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1633656

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-hiv-africa#fnref2

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/idog/2010/609315/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28108929

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445272/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19265734

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/