WHO Revise STD Treatment Guidelines As Threat Of Antibiotic Resistance Escalates

WHO Revise STD Treatment Guidelines As Threat Of Antibiotic Resistance Escalates Image

Many sexually transmitted diseases are considered incurable. These conditions are generally simply managed with the appropriate medication. On the other hand, a few infections transferred through sexual intercourse are known to be highly treatable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotics are currently considered the standard treatment option for patients with an STI caused by bacteria. The three sexually transmitted infections noted by the World Health Organization include chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. 

Treatment guidelines for these diseases have recently been updated by the World Health Organization. The WHO encourages all countries to immediately start implementing the new treatment guidelines. Changes were made following the increase in cases linked to antibiotic resistance. 

Updated Treatment Guidelines By WHO For Bacterial STIs

The World Health Organization recently raised concerns regarding three specific sexually transmitted infections that are becoming more difficult to treat. The three infections noted include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. 

All three of these conditions are treated with antibiotics. 

The WHO explains that many of these conditions go undiagnosed. When a person fails to obtain tests and get a diagnosis for these infections early on, they can cause damage to the person’s general well-being. 

In some cases, these conditions can even cause life-threatening complications to occur. 

New strains of gonorrhea have been detected that seem to have multidrug-resistance. This means the standard antibiotics used to treat the condition is no longer working. The bacterial infection continues to cause harm to a patient’s body even after they have been treated with the antibiotics that have been used for gonorrhea during the last few decades. 

This led to the compilation of new treatment guidelines by the WHO. The organization has now urged all countries to take notice of the new treatment guidelines. The implementation of the new treatment methods for gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia should assist in reducing the more serious complications that people tend to experience. 

The WHO also encourages patients to take appropriate actions to reduce their risk of being infected with these bacterial diseases. 

Healthcare professionals from the WHO explained that the use of condoms is currently considered an effective preventative strategy for the general population to follow. Patients are advised to use condoms when they participate in sexual activities with a partner. Frequent testing for these three bacterial infections is also crucial to ensure treatment is implemented at an early stage of the disease. 

Antibiotic Resistance Became Very Serious

Treatment for bacterial infections that transmit through sexual intercourse generally includes the use of antibiotics. Following episodes of increased antibiotic resistance cases throughout the world, the WHO has recently updated its guidelines for the treatment of three particular bacterial STIs. The implementation of these guidelines is critical in the prevention of a further escalation regarding antibiotic resistance.  

References

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/detail/30-08-2016-growing-antibiotic-resistance-forces-updates-to-recommended-treatment-for-sexually-transmitted-infections

Why Are STD Rates So High In Liberia?

Why Are STD Rates So High In Liberia Image

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been the reason for the high mortality rates and the declined quality of life all around the world for many years now. However, with the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, we have successfully reduced the high STD rates. There are still some countries such as Liberia, where the STD rates are dangerously high. 

How common are STDs in Liberia?

In 2016, there has been a total of 2900 new HIV cases, whereas 2800 people have lost their lives because of this life-threatening disease. HIV/AIDS is considered to be one of the leading causes of death in Liberia. But it is not only the rates of HIV/AIDS that are high – other STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia are often diagnosed among the people in Libera as well. Syphilis, for instance, had killed 124 people back in 2017.

The reasons behind the high STD rates in Liberia

As we all know, it is the early diagnosis and the proper treatment using a combination of prescribed medications that is the answer to the continuous decline of STD rates around the world. However, it seems that for the people of Liberia, including their doctors and medical practitioners, traditional medicine is the answer rather than following the advice that WHO (World Health Organization) is providing us with.

It was as early as 1992 when a group of researchers found out what has been causing the continuous growth of the already high STD rates. They published their findings with the hope of changing things as they are. In the study published in Social Science & Medicine, they talked about the use of traditional medicine for the purposes of treating the common STDs.

Even the worst of them have been treated with the use of herbal teas and discussed in secrecy because of the common belief that they are dealing with black magic. STDs and sexual health are considered to be taboo in Liberia as well as in many other centuries still, until this day. It is HIV/AIDS that is most often discussed as sorcery and believed that there is no cure for it, despite the existence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) that is widely used in the rest of the world.

Luckily, the home tests for the common STDs have been invented. These tests allow the individual to test himself/herself at home and later receive the results in complete anonymity. This does help the case, especially in countries, such as Liberia, where talking about STDs and sexual health is linked to feelings of shame and blame. Still, the need for a proper treatment instead of the use of traditional medicine continues to exist. And until a change is not introduced in their usual practice of traditional medicine, we are only looking into a horrifying and rapid increase in mortality rates due to STDs.

Mortality Rates Are On The Rise

Liberia is not excluded from being one of the countries around the world that faces struggles with the common STDs. In fact, Liberia is considered to be one of the countries with the highest STD rates as well as high mortality rates due to the common STDs, especially HIV/AIDS. The reason for these high rates being the fact that until this day, STDs are believed to be sorcery that can only be treated with the common practice of traditional medicine.

References

https://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/liberia

https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/liberia-syphilis

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/027795369290048U

How STDs Affect Quality of Life

How STDs Affect Quality of Life Image

The scourge of sexually transmitted diseases or STDs known globally is endemic. It is an estimate that over 20 million people are living with HIV in East and Southern Africa alone. If other regions of the African continent are to be included, that figure is colossal. Besides the HIV/ AIDS problem, there is a silent epidemic that is devastating the African society daily. The BBC News WHO statistics show that the prevalence of curable sexually transmitted diseases rate at one million new infections daily.

What is troubling is the age demography and gender of the most affected groups of society. In most cases, it is the reproductive bracket of between 16 and 49 years that suffers. In a recent forum in Rwanda, African first ladies met to discuss the impact of STDs on the lives of women and children. 

On this platform, we shall look into the effects of the STDS on the quality of life. This is most notably in the African context.

  • Psychological Trauma

This is the first thing that affects the victim. Africa is still a pretty conservative society when it comes to matters of social morality. Ironically, it has the highest number of sufferers. This paradox is the principal cause of the frustrations of most victims. The first thing one feels is a shame. Sexual infections like chlamydia and syphilis bring about serious manifestations in the genital area. 

The stigma that comes with opening up can be devastating. Family members and the immediate support base distance from the victim. When this happens, one ends up with nothing to lean on. In some cases, even health professionals trigger shame by assuming the sinful life of the victim. Ultimately, the sufferers become social pariahs and isolate themselves. That can lead to mental disturbances in victims. 

  • Reproductive Health Problems

The social fabric of African society is primarily patriarchal. Thus some communities may condone men to have multiple sexual partners. Women are on the receiving end of this practice. The reproductive effects of STDs in women are more severe than in men. The clinical symptoms gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis come out when some of the reproductive organs are on their decline. 

In the wake of these situations, many women contract STDs and suffer silently. The health facilities in most areas lack the necessary medication on the same. Again, the stigma in society pushes people to go for self-medication. This opens the way for more destruction to the internal reproductive system. Untreated STDs cause numerous consequences. The most endemic is infertility in both men and women. Numerous families end up in divorce or separation due to the lack of children.

  • Social Disintegration

The extent of poverty in the communities is a primary factor in the spread of STDS. Men prey on young girls and vulnerable women for sex in exchange for financial favors. Since the men are the financiers here, the young girls have little say on the matter. This leaves them exposed to STDs and HIV. It is alarming to see the high rate of school dropouts in girls due to pregnancy. The perpetrators of these acts usually are grown-up men.

While several organizations are working to educate young girls about STDs and financial empowerment to women, success is still low. It is this equality gap that brings about the vulnerability in girls and women. In poor settlements, girls rarely finish their studies. This contributes to the high number of sex workers. The lack of protective knowledge also gives rise to the spread of STDs and the ultimate disintegration of society.

  • Economic Strains

On a personal level, victims of STDs use a vast amount of their finances to treat the diseases. In most cases, they do this in total discreet silence. For those with HIV, the burden is more significant. The ARVs are more expensive than treatable gonorrhea or chlamydia. Though gonorrhea is easy to treat, the reinfection makes it difficult for most treatment. So, misuse of drugs is gradually giving rise to drug-resistant strands of gonorrhea. Subsequently, that will give rise to the cost of medication by the patients.

In some countries, the government offers subsidies in the medication. Though this is good, the amount of money that goes to the medicine deprives other crucial sectors of the economy of funds. In 2015, Swaziland spent USD 16 million on the treatment of HPV. With a per capita background of USD 2,598, it is a high cost for a population of less than two million. 

 In South Africa alone, 71,000 people died in 2018 of HIV related deaths. This deprives the country of the most productive segment of the economy of human resources. Without the human resource, the economy will have a reduction in growth.

  • Poor Societal Growth

It is a result of the lack of prevention that gives rise to this factor. Six percent of the pregnancies in Southern Africa report cases of syphilis. The deaths resulting from the STDs are enormous. With many parents dying of AIDS, young people see the engagement in unsafe sex as a way to gain meaningful employment. Oblivious of the dangers, the cycle of infections continue. This places the parental responsibilities on the grandparents who are less economically viable to cater for the families. 

In other parts, private organizations are doing an excellent job in sex education and rehabilitation of young girls. But, the rise of commercial sex workers in urban centers is slowing the battle to curb the STDs. Traditional myths and societal norms are making STDs part of our daily lives. In some societies, men believe that having sex with a young virgin will cleanse you of syphilis or gonorrhea. This increases the cases of insecurity in impoverished settlements. 

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48542403

https://allafrica.com/stories/201912040006.html

https://www.everydayhealth.com/stds/stigma-stds-mental-health-lgbtq-youth-whats-connection/

https://www.webmd.com/women/features/women_and_chlamydia#1

https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/webpages/Modules/STD/s1pg11.htm

https://www.avert.org/news/urbanisation-rural-uganda-driving-hiv-country

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

https://www.nation.co.ke/news/gonorrhoea-becoming-harder-to-treat/1056-4006696-11o12ea/index.html

https://www.itg.be/E/Article/syphilis-almost-eliminated-almost-everywhere-except-in-africa

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177762

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

https://srh.bmj.com/content/46/1/73

Herpes in Nigeria

Herpes in Nigeria Image

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that targets the mouth and reproductive organs of the body. The disease is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which has two types: type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). 

HSV-1 is known to cause oral herpes, which infects the lips and mouth. Symptoms include cold sores and fever blisters. HSV-1 is not considered an STD by many healthcare experts, but it is still a serious health concern.

HSV-2, better known as genital herpes, is more severe than its oral counterpart. It affects the genital area, unlike HSV-1, which is limited to the mouth and causes lesions, including blisters and sores, on the skin. HSV-2 can only be contracted by skin-on-skin contact with an infected person. To contract HSV-2, you must come into direct contact with either the mucous membranes from or an exposed cut of an infected individual.

Having one type of HSV does not guarantee that you have the other one too. The two types act independently of each other and even target different areas. However, it is still possible to have both if you contract them at the same time, but one cannot cause the other.

Herpes in Nigeria

Nigeria is in the midst of a healthcare crisis; the rates of genital herpes in Nigeria are higher than in any other country with an estimate of 77.8% of adults being carriers of HSV-2. Older people have a higher prevalence of the disease, with the 51-60 year age group having the greatest rate of disease occurrence. The rates of prevalence are higher in unemployed people than in those with jobs. 

Pregnant women also experience cases of HSV-2. A survey carried out in Benin, Nigeria, showed that a staggering 46.3% of consenting pregnant women from a sample population were HSV-2 positive. 

Diagnosis of Herpes

Herpes is diagnosed by either one or a combination of the following methods:

  • Viral Culture: A lab test is conducted on a sore or tissue sample from the patient.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This method is used to replicate your DNA from a sample of your blood, sore tissue, or spinal fluid. The resulting DNA is then tested for HSV.
  • Blood test: a blood sample is tested for the presence of HSV antibodies.

An expert physician, especially one working in a region densely affected by herpes, can also diagnose the disease based on a simple physical exam.

Portable Herpes Test Kits

Due to the strong prevalence of HSV in Nigeria, the government and many organizations have made efforts to make self-examination common. Luckily, this can easily be done with the help of portable herpes test kits. 

These kits contain testing materials like cotton swabs and test tubes, as well as shipping envelopes. A person who suspects an infection must collect either a sore tissue sample or mucus sample and send it to the given address marked on the kit inside the special envelope provided inside the package. After a few days, you can access the test results online.

If you’re worried about being infected, but feel uncomfortable about going to the hospital, this is the perfect choice for you!

Challenges Associated with Treating Herpes in Nigeria 

Nigeria is suffering from a herpes epidemic. Despite efforts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other NGOs, the virus still runs rampant amongst the Nigerian people. There are several challenges associated with the eradication of HSV in Nigeria. 

Firstly, Nigeria is a developing country with the highest levels of poverty in the world, overtaking other developing nations like India and Ethiopia. This poverty is the primary reason why it has become so difficult to eliminate herpes from the area. 

Due to poverty, the Nigerian people face a severe shortage of medication as well as testing methods. Their overall lack of education has led to most adults being unaware of the dangers of herpes. This lack of awareness prevents them from practicing safe sex, which increases the likelihood of HSV contraction. 

Those who are aware of the symptoms of HSV often have limited methods of confirming it. There is both a shortage of hospitals and testing kits in the region. Even the efforts made by NGOs are insufficient to confront the healthcare issues faced by the 86.9 million people living in poverty in Nigeria.

Additionally, the shortage of clean water and the prevalence of unhygienic conditions have led to an increase in HSV cases as the majority of Nigerians cannot afford to practice good hygiene.  Due to poverty, many people also cannot afford contraceptives and are thus exposed to diseases that are transmitted through direct contact with genital sores and mucus. 

Interestingly, HSV sometimes appears with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Reports say that HSV-2 makes it easier for people to contract HIV, but making it harder to treat them because of the compromised state HIV puts their immune system in. This is by far the most complicated challenge faced by healthcare providers trying to eliminate HSV in Nigeria. 

An individual affected by HSV-2, as well as HIV, cannot be treated the way a person with only HSV-2 would. Using excessive medication would harm the patient more than help them because of how weak HIV/AIDS has made their body.

Nigeria is severely affected by herpes, which is caused by HSV. It is a viral disease that cannot be treated with antibiotics, making treatment harder than initially anticipated by healthcare experts. The majority of adults in Nigeria suffer from HSV, especially HSV-2, which affects the genital area.

Despite the efforts of multiple NGOs, termination of herpes seems near impossible due to the widespread challenges that affect Nigerians. There is no exact solution for the condition, but medical experts around the world are working towards a cure.

References:

https://www.pulse.ng/lifestyle/beauty-health/genital-herpes-causes-symptoms-and-prevention-of-this-ailment/xnv9z5t

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319524.php#transmission-of-hsv2

https://allafrica.com/stories/200810140635.html

The True Impact of Chlamydia Through History in Africa

Chlamydia in africa

Chlamydia is a tremendous public health concern across the world. But, there is one particular continent that has long been struggling with this common sexually transmitted disease, and that is Africa.

Based on statistics, around 50 million women across the globe carry this infection, but 34 million of them live in Africa, particularly the southeast and Sub-Saharan region. Research estimates that the 10% decline in population growth in this region is the result of chlamydia infection, while 30% is caused by gonorrhea.

While chlamydia may not be the primary cause of population decline, it does have a heavy impact on people’s lives. Those who fail to get treated are vulnerable to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

Even though this infection can be easily avoided and treated, there are around 5 million newly reported cases of infection every single year, and most of them are recorded in Africa. Here, we will talk about the history of this infection, how it’s being managed today, and analyze the statistics on why chlamydia is still so prevalent in Africa.

The History of Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia has deep roots, and to better understand these roots, we have to start from the very beginning. Prior to the colonial period, there was one particular region in Africa that stood out from the rest. It was the first region ever to be introduced to sexually transmitted diseases, and that is south Ghana.

Ghana is located in the western part of Africa, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Its strategic location and land made it popular among European settlers. At this time, the settlers forced their way into society and brought the sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia, to the African region. These infections were never before seen or experienced by the African population.

By the 1920s, syphilis and gonorrhea became widespread with more than 1500 cases recorded in the southern part of the country, records show. Many years later, in 1946, with the arrival of troops and influx of laborers during World War II, tens of thousands of newly recorded cases of various STDs became a serious problem for the region.

At this time, there was no one responsible for controlling the STDs in the country or the continent, which led people to seek other unsafe treatment alternatives to manage the symptoms. Those infected purchased sulpha drugs on the black market.

These drugs were extremely dangerous to their overall health but were the only method of treatment available to the mass population. It wasn’t until 1986 that government officials finally turned their attention to managing STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS.

In an effort to put an end to these serious diseases, in 1992, STD control programs, treatments, detection, and prevention methods were finally initiated.

How Is Chlamydia Managed Today?

In 2008, Africa gained access to top-quality STD programs for effective treatment. These treatments are available all across the continent, and since then, around 44% of those infected have received proper treatment. Based on the records from decades ago, this is a considerable improvement.

Now, many health practitioners and volunteers participate in programs to raise awareness of STDs to help those infected better understand their infection. These efforts have paid off, and since 1999, chlamydia infections have dramatically decreased. With the help of counseling, now 85% of people are aware of the existence of STDs, and many of them have access to adequate treatment.

Why Is Chlamydia Still a Serious Problem in Africa?

For many years, the world has had access to proper STD treatments and preventive methods, but in Africa, these bacterial infections still remain a pressing concern. Based on records, Africa is the number one most infected region with STDs. It’s so prevalent that 14 million children have lost one or both of their parents due to these infections.

There are four major reasons that hinder the effects of STD treatment programs in Africa, and these are:

  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Lack of funding
  • Insufficient workforce specifically trained to adapt to this environment
  • Discrimination

Many infected have yet to try to manage their disease or attend programs. Most of the people who don’t get counseling, medications, or don’t use preventions are males. Results have shown that these programs and coverages are not enough to control the epidemic.

Most of the population in Africa is poor and can’t afford any vaccines or medications for treatment. Also, health facilities that offer chlamydia treatment services are far away from rural neighborhoods and are often situated near more populated cities or towns. This makes the facilities less accessible for a huge percentage of the infected population.

But, even if all individuals had access to these treatment facilities, health practitioners will often face one major problem, and that is the discriminatory law.

People who live in Africa are very discriminating towards individuals who are found HIV positive or carry any STDs. Those who carry the infection and publically announce it can get humiliated in front of their village or tribe. Based on statistics, women often carry the blame for spreading infection, such as chlamydia, regardless of who actually transmitted the infection.

Out of fear of being tested positive, those infected would avoid getting tested or receive proper treatment. This is something many health practitioners are unequipped to deal with.

Chlamydia has a long history, particularly in Africa

Africa has long been the most infected continent with sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia. Due to poverty, lack of information, proper education, medical facilities, and treatments, these infections have become an epidemic. This is how the bacterial infection has affected the entire continent and how it’s managed today.

To cope with such a serious problem, people should first learn about these infections. That way, they can overcome the discrimination and prejudice they have about these infections. However, this is something that can prove difficult in the African region. Despite the success in treating these infections, chlamydia still remains a serious issue for most of the population.

References

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

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

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlamydia_trachomatis

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30279-7/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8511712

Common STDs and How to Recognize Them

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are conditions passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Millions of people around the globe have STDs, especially in developing countries, including Ghana and other African nations. Prevention of STDs is entirely possible, but to make it happen, we need to get informed and learn as much as we can about them. The main purpose of this post is to highlight common STDs and show you how to recognize their symptoms.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a common STD caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus is categorized into two types: HSV-1, which is mainly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, usually causing cold sores, but can also induce genital herpes and HSV-2, which is an STD.

How common is genital herpes?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, or 67% of the world population, have HSV-1 infection. About 417 million people aged 15-49, or 11% of the world population, have HSV-2 infection. Estimates show that 350 million women (87%) and 355 million men (87%) in Africa have HSV-1 virus. On the other hand, the HSV-2 virus affects 17 million women in 18 million men in Africa.

Evidence confirms that the prevalence of genital herpes in Ghana is high, and it could be attributed to high endemicity and inadequate intervention, especially in women.

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing genital herpes?

Generally speaking, every sexually active man or woman can develop genital herpes. That being said, some people are at a higher risk than others. Common risk factors associated with genital herpes include:

  • Having unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having a sexual partner who tested positive for genital herpes
  • Being a woman

Symptoms of genital herpes

The ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of some STD helps an affected man or woman to get much-needed treatment. That’s why it’s important to learn how to recognize symptoms of genital herpes, particularly because most people are not even aware they have it. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and patients think they will go away on their own without realizing they have an STD, which they can transmit to other people.

Symptoms tend to develop two to 12 days after exposure to HSV. People usually experience:

  • Pain and tenderness in the genital area
  • Itching in the genital area
  • Small red bumps or tiny white blisters
  • Ulcers which can rapture, bleed, ooze, and make it difficult to urinate
  • Scabs on the sites where ulcers rapture

An affected person experiences flu-like symptoms during the initial outbreak. They may also experience headache, muscle ache, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Sores associated with genital herpes develop on buttocks, thighs, anus, mouth, and even urethra. Women can also develop sores on the cervix and external genitals while men can notice them on scrotum and penis.

Men and women with recurrent herpes develop symptoms about 48 hours before the outbreak. They may notice tingling, pain, and itching at the site of infection. The pain may, in some cases, extend down to buttocks and knees.

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Why get treated?

Unfortunately, many men and women don’t go to see their doctor get this STD treated. When left unmanaged, genital herpes can lead to many complications such as increased risk to other STDs, meningitis, proctitis (rectal inflammation), bladder problems, and infection of the newborn.

How is genital herpes treated?

The cure which could eliminate genital herpes entirely doesn’t exist, but it is still possible to get the necessary treatment. The main objective of the treatment is to lower the chances of transmitting genital herpes to other people, reduce the frequency of occurrence, lower severity of symptoms, and help sores heal. For this purpose, doctors prescribe antiviral medications such as Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Getting tested regularly is important, and luckily, today, you can order a test online and do it in the comfort of your home rather than scheduling an appointment at the doctor’s office.

Read More: Genital Herpes Treatment

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STD caused by infection with the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which tends to infect moist and warm areas of the body such as urethra, eyes, throat, vagina, anus, and female reproductive tract.

How common is gonorrhea?

Sometimes referred to as “the clap,” gonorrhea is one of the most prevalent STDs. On a global level, 87 million new cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed each year. Like many other STDs, gonorrhea is also more prevalent in developing countries. For example, one study showed that out of 950 subjects from Ghana, 28% of them had gonorrhea, and men were more likely to develop it than women.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing gonorrhea?

Just like with other sexually transmitted diseases, every man or woman who engages in sexual intercourse can develop gonorrhea. But, the risk is higher in some groups. Factors that increase your odds of developing gonorrhea include:

  • Younger age
  • Having a new sex partner
  • History of other sexually transmitted diseases
  • History of gonorrhea
  • Having a sex partner who also has concurrent partners

Symptoms of gonorrhea

Some people have no symptoms at all, but it doesn’t mean there is no infection. The absence of symptoms can still mean you are infected and also able to transmit this STD to other people. Generally speaking, signs and symptoms of gonorrhea develop one to 14 days after the infection. Men and women experience gonorrhea differently, and below you can see how they feel when they develop this STD.

Men tend to experience:

  • Painful, red, warm and swollen joints
  • White, yellow, or green urethral discharge that looks like pus
  • Pain in the eyes, sensitivity to the light, pus-like discharge from the eyes
  • Pain in scrotum or testicles
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Anal discharge, itching, and pain in the anal area bleeding when passing stool

On the flip side, women with gonorrhea may notice:

  • Fever
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Swollen, red, warm, and painful joints
  • Vaginal discharge yellow or green in color
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Sore throat, itching, difficulty swallowing, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Heavier periods
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain and vomiting
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Itching and pain in the anal area

Read More: Gonorrhea Symptoms

Why get treated?

As seen above, some men and women may not notice any symptoms at all, but they are still infected. That is why it is crucial to get tested regularly, and home tests could be incredibly practical in this case. Being proactive about sexual health and symptoms of gonorrhea allows you to get the necessary treatment in a timely manner. When left ignored, gonorrhea can cause multiple complications such as infertility, an infection that spreads to other areas and joints in the body, a higher risk of HIV/AIDS, and complications in babies born to infected mothers.

How is gonorrhea treated

The primary route of treatment of gonorrhea is through antibiotics. Partners of infected men and women are also encouraged to get tested in order to prevent transmitting the STD back and forth or to other people.

Read More: Gonorrhea Treatment

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common, sexually transmitted disease that affects men and women alike. Just like other STDs, Chlamydia is caused by bacteria, and in this case, that is Chlamydia trachomatis. The STD can be spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, but it is also possible for pregnant women to spread Chlamydia to their babies during delivery.

How common is Chlamydia?

According to the WHO, about 127 million cases of Chlamydia are diagnosed each year. That is a staggering number. One of the most common reasons behind the ever-growing incidence of Chlamydia, especially in developing nations such as Ghana, is the lack of public awareness. In fact, the prevalence of STDs in Ghana is expected to grow as stigmatization continues. And, as you are already aware, stigmatization occurs due to the absence of the above-mentioned public awareness.

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing Chlamydia?

Factors that increase a person’s risk of developing this sexually transmitted disease include:

  • History of some STD
  • Having sex without a condom
  • Changing multiple sex partners in a year
  • Being sexually active before the age of 25

Getting tested regularly can help decrease your risk of developing Chlamydia. Regular tests also raise awareness of this STD, fight stigmatization, and prevent spreading Chlamydia to other people. Besides “traditional” testing at clinics or hospitals, people can also get at-home tests for Chlamydia, which may be practical for those who want more privacy throughout the whole process.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is often considered as “silent” infection because many people have it although they don’t experience any symptoms. But, just like with other STDs, the absence of symptoms can still mean you are infected, and you can transmit it to someone else. Bear in mind that even if Chlamydia doesn’t cause any symptoms, it can still damage the reproductive system. First signs and symptoms tend to occur one to two weeks after the exposure to the bacterium. Men and women tend to experience this STD differently. Below, you can see the signs and symptoms of Chlamydia in men and women.

Men may notice the following:

  • Pain in the testicles
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Green or yellow discharge from the penis

It’s also possible to get the infection in anus. In this case, a man may notice pain, bleeding, and discharge from this area.

On the other hand, women may experience these symptoms:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation while urinating

In some cases, the STD can spread to the fallopian tubes.

Read More: Chlamydia Symptoms

Why get treated?

Reasons to be proactive about the prevention and treatment of Chlamydia (as well as other STDs) are numerous. Besides lowering the risk of transmitting Chlamydia to someone else, you can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing various complications. When left ignored or unmanaged, Chlamydia can harm your health in more ways than one. Some of the most common complications include increased risk of other STDs, pelvic inflammatory disease, infection near the testicles, infections in newborns, infection of prostate, reactive arthritis, and infertility.

Read More: Chlamydia Treatment

How is Chlamydia treated?

Just like other STDs, Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. A patient may receive a one-time dose, or he or she may need to take the drugs a few times a day for five to 10 days, depending on the severity of symptoms. Generally speaking, the infection goes away in one to two weeks. It goes without saying you need to abstain from sex during this time.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacterium Treponema pallidum, and it develops in four stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The bacteria can spread from one person to another through direct contact with a syphilitic sore. Just like other STDs, this one also spreads through sexual contact i.e., vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

How common is syphilis?

The World Health Organization reports that 6.3 million cases of syphilis are recorded each year around the globe. In 2016, the last year for which data is available on a global level, 1 million pregnant women had active syphilis, which led to 350,000 adverse birth outcomes. Of these, 200,000 accounted for stillbirths and neonatal death. In Africa, the prevalence of syphilis is high, especially in males in rural areas. One study of pregnant women showed that the cumulative prevalence of syphilis among 4181 blood donors over a five-year period was 2.58% in Ghana.

Population-based studies show greater prevalence, and scientists point out that the lack of precise information can be correct with further research on this topic. More precise information allows scientists and healthcare professionals to create programs to raise awareness and prevent this STD from spreading.

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Who is at risk of developing syphilis?

You may have a higher risk of developing syphilis if these factors apply to you:

  • HIV infection
  • Regularly engaging in unprotected and risky sex
  • Man who has sexual intercourse with other men
  • Changing multiple sexual partners

Symptoms of syphilis

Symptoms of syphilis vary from stage to stage.

The primary syphilis is usually indicated by chancre (small sore), which appears on the site where bacteria entered the body. The chancre develops about three weeks after exposure to bacteria. It may be hidden in rectum or vagina, so many people don’t notice it. Chancre tends to go away on its own in one to three weeks. Some people can have one chancre only, but others may have several, and it tends to be painless.

Secondary syphilis occurs within a few weeks after the chancre has healed. A person may notice:

  • Rash starting on the trunk and spreading across the body
  • Sores in mouth or genitals
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The above-mentioned symptoms may go away in a few weeks, but in some cases, they come and go throughout the year.

Latent syphilis occurs when a person isn’t treated in the first two stages. This phase has no noticeable symptoms, but it may last for years before it progresses to the tertiary stage. The last stage of syphilis involves the spreading of the STD to other organs such as the brain, blood vessels, heart, bones, liver, and joints.

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Why get treated?

Without proper treatment, syphilis can progress from one stage to another and cause a number of complications such as the formation of small bumps or tumors on the skin, bones, and other organs, cardiovascular problems, neurological problems, higher risk of HIV, and complications in pregnancy and with childbirth.

How is syphilis treated?

Syphilis is easy to treat when diagnosed in early stages when doctors usually prescribe penicillin. In most cases, one injection is necessary. In later stages, syphilis can be difficult to treat, which is why it’s crucial to see the doctor as soon as you notice sore on your genital area.

Read More: Syphilis Treatment

Conclusion

Sexually transmitted diseases are common but are preventable. Practice safe sex, get tested regularly, and learn how to recognize signs and symptoms. The more you know, the safer you are.

Read More: STD’s in Ghana

References

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

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/28-10-2015-globally-an-estimated-two-thirds-of-the-population-under-50-are-infected-with-herpes-simplex-virus-type-1

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

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

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4035-y#Sec5

https://www.ghanahealthservice.org/ghs-item-details.php?scid=22&iid=78

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#Sec11

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998162/

1 in 9 Men Has Oral HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. In fact, most sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their life. More than 100 types of HPV have been identified so far, and more than 40 subtypes of the virus can infect one’s throat and genital region. Oral HPV is transmitted through oral sex, and it is one of the most prevalent forms of the virus. The latest figures show that one in nine American men is infected with oral HPV, which is a major reason for concern.

Prevalence of oral HPV among American men

Even though the prevalence of HPV-positive OPSCC (oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma) is high among men, the evidence about the difference in the prevalence of oral HPV among men and women is limited. The lack of data prevents scientists and healthcare providers from proposing adequate measures to lower the prevalence rates.

What’s more, concordance of genital and oral HPV among African men is still unknown. To get more insight into the subject and gain knowledge about the prevalence of oral HPV, Ashish A. Deshmukh, and a team of scientists at the University of Florida carried out an important study. Deshmukh and his team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze the rates of oral HPV and compare how many women and men are infected with this virus. Participants who took part in this large study were between 18 and 69 years old.

The results of the study were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and they showed that 11.5% of participants had HPV. Expectedly, the prevalence of both low- and high-risk HPV was higher in men than in women. For example, only 1.4% of women were infected with high-risk HPV, while 7.3% of men had this sexually transmitted infection. Both men and women from the 50-54 age group had a higher prevalence of the virus compared to their younger and older counterparts.

Findings also showed that 11 million men had oral HPV or one in nine men to be more precise. On the other hand, only 3.2 million women had this type of virus. It is still not clear why HPV is more frequent in men than in women.

Increasing rates of high-risk HPV

As mentioned above, men are more prone to high-risk HPV, and scientists just discovered how common this virus really is. They discovered that the most prevalent high-risk type of the virus, HPV 16, was six times higher in men than in women with a ratio of 1.8% vs. 0.3%.

The HPV 16 is a major contributor to cancers of the head and neck. These figures could also explain the rise incidence of oropharyngeal cancer. The rates of this cancer have increased by more than 300% during the last four decades, thus making it the most frequent HPV-related cancer in the country.

Other findings

Along with shocking findings of the prevalence of oral HPV and high-risk virus strains, scientists made other important discoveries too:

  • High-risk oral HPV was strongly linked with cigarette smoking and marijuana use
  • In 2016, 60% of teens ages 13-17 received at least one or more doses of HPV vaccine
  • Oral HPV is more prevalent in African-American men than in white men
  • The highest rates of oral HPV were found in men who reported having sexual intercourse with multiple partners, men with genital HPV, and men who had sex with other men

Conclusion

The latest study discovered that not only HPV is more prevalent in men, but oral HPV affects one in nine American men. At this point, scientists aren’t sure why the virus is more prevalent among men than in women, but risk factors include same-sex with other men, smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana), engaging in sexual intercourse with multiple partners.

References

http://annals.org/aim/article/2657698/oral-human-papillomavirus-infection-differences-prevalence-between-sexes-concordance-genital

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/16/health/oral-hpv-infections-men-study/index.html

http://time.com/4983675/human-papillomavirus-oral-hpv/

Facts about Chlamydia Bacteria

Chlamydia Information

Chlamydia belongs to the venereal diseases close to gonorrhea. You may wonder that Chlamydia is most prevalent among adolescents and young adults.

This is because most people mistake this disease with gonorrhea. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual encounters or exposure to genital fluids.

The Chlamydia causing bacteria chlamydia trachomatis is commonly known as trachomatis. As you have seen, it is the young and most knowledgeable that are at risk of the disease. Thus, it is prudent for them to have all they need to know about Chlamydia.

Risks of Chlamydia Trachomatis

The vulnerable groups from this disease are people within the age group 15 to 25. It is the group that is actively involved in childbearing. Some of the symptoms of the disease include

  • Inflammation of the genitals
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Yellowish green discharge from the genital
  • Fever and sore throat
  • Premenstrual bleeding for women
  • In some cases, anal Chlamydia may occur

The longtime risks of chlamydia range from severe damage to the reproductive organs in both men and women. In pregnant women, there is a potential of infecting the child at birth. The outcome may be damage to the eyes, lungs, and skin. In the long run, the baby may suffer blindness and have a deficiency in immunity.

The most profound advantage of the chlamydia bacteria is the ability to stay in a host without detection. It can reproduce and continue infecting the person without showing any clinical signs.

This helps it to spread from one person to another with ease. Women tend to inhibit the bacteria for longer than men.

Read More: Chlamydia Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Apart from regular questions about your history and concerns, the doctor carries a physical observation. Samples from the genitals go for testing in the laboratory.

Sometimes, further tests may come from the throat, anus, and the sores. After the results, the doctor prescribes medication.

The treatment of the bacteria is through antibiotics. Usually, the dose goes for about a week. It is paramount to abstain from sex during and after the medication until the doctor certifies your recovery.

At no point should one skip or negate on taking the drug. Though it is easy to treat, the damage on the organs if untreated can be long term.

Read More: Chlamydia Treatment With Antibiotics

Read More: Chlamydia Treatment

Prevention

There is no possible way to prevent Chlamydia apart from abstinence from sex. In case you cannot manage that, practicing safe sex comes next. Make sure there is no genital to body contact unless there is protection. Regular screening for both partners will help protect each other and early detection.

Ultimately, one should weigh the options ahead. Is it the pleasure of having unsafe sex and contracting chlamydia bacteria, or being safe and reserving your reproductive organs for the future.

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

References

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

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

http://ir.knust.edu.gh/bitstream/123456789/8024/1/Chlamydia%20trachomatis%20prevalence%20in%20two%20Accra%20hospitals%20in%20%20%20%20%20%20the%20Greater%20Accra%20Region%20and%20thre.pdf

What’s Herpes and Benefits of Testing at Home

Herpes Information

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

See all STD Test Kits

What is herpes?

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

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

Who is at risk of herpes?

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

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

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

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

What are the symptoms of herpes?

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

  • Pain during urination
  • Blistering sores on genitals
  • Itching

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

Read More: Genital Herpes Symptoms

Why get tested for herpes?

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

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

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

Product: Right Sign Herpes Test Kit

Product: One Step Herpes Test

What is the home test for herpes?

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

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

Genital Herpes Treatment

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

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

Awareness About Genital Herpes in the African Region

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

Read More: STD’s in Ghana

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

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

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

References:

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

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

All You Need to Know About STDs in Africa

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

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

Read More: HIV and AIDS

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

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: Genital Herps (HSV) in Ghana

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

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

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

Main Focus:

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

The Risk Factors Associated with STDs in Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Discharge
  • Narrowed urethra
  • Inflamed testicles
  • Sterility

AIDS and STDs in Ghana

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

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

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

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

Genital Herpes Is a Serious Issue

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

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

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

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

Read More: Genital Herpes (HSV) Symptoms

Syphilis During Pregnancy

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

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

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Control and Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Challenges and Problems to Overcome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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