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

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa Image

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

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

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

The Demographic-Economic Impact of STDs in Africa

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

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

The Effects of STDs on Labor Productivity

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

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

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

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

The Effect of STDs on Labor Supply

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

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

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

The Effects of STDs on the Taxable Population

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

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

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

The Effects of STDs on Exports and Imports

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

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

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

Government’s Response to STDs in Africa

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs Image

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Condoms in Africa

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

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

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

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

Higher Condom Supply Is Necessary

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

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

The Interest in Free Condoms Hinders the Private Condom Manufacturing Sector

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

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

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

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

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

Tackling the Condom Production Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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


How Big Of A Role Does Migration Play In HIV Transmission In South Africa?

South Africa and HIV

Identifying the risk factors for HIV and STD has had a positive impact on the prevention and treatment of these serious diseases. But is migration one of those risk factors? Should we be considered about the millions of people who are migrating across South Africa and spreading HIV and other STDs? A 2003 study has investigated this very same question, so let’s find out the answer, shall we?

The role of migration in HIV transmission among those living in South Africa

Africa is one of the countries with the highest STD prevalence in the world, being one of the high burden countries as it is. A study published in 2016 has revealed that there are approximately 36.7 million people infected with HIV on an international level, with 2.1 million of those living in Africa alone. But it is not only adults that are affected by this frightening disease. Over the years, it has been suggested that 91% of the HIV-infected children are living in Africa, as well.

And it is not only HIV that we need to be worried about since there are many common STDs such as gonorrhea and syphilis that are also frequently diagnosed in Africa as well. Despite the fact that they are curable as compared to HIV, they still present an economic burden and a factor that reduces the quality of life for these individuals.

Researching common factors

Researchers have made an effort to discover the most common factors that contribute to the high HIV and STD rates in Africa. It has been revealed that people living in Africa are usually unaware of the risks that these dangerous diseases pose, but studies have also revealed that there have been many people who are very well aware of these risks and still fail to get regular check-ups and proper treatment when needed. For example, a study published in 2019 has revealed that it is the feelings of shame and fear that are preventing these people from asking for help, which is why they decide to live with the consequences in silence.

But the search for the factors that contribute to the high HIV rates has begun as early as 2003 when a study has been published in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Researchers have conducted the study to investigate if migration plays any role in the spreading of the HIV infection.

For the purposes of the research, 196 migrant men and 130 of their rural partners, including 64 nonmigrant men and 98 rural women, have been included in the study. The male migrants have been recruited at work in two different urban centers with their rural partners being invited to participate as well, while the nonmigrant couples have been recruited for comparison. Questionnaires and blood samples for HIV detection have been used to determine the presence of HIV infection in both migrant and nonmigrant couples.

What the study revealed was that migration is one of the high-risk factors for HIV infection, next to practicing unprotected sexual intercourse and having lived in four or more places during a lifetime. For women, being the partner of a migrant man has not been considered to be a significant risk factor for HIV. This draws attention to proper workplace interventions to prevent further spreading of HIV and other common STDs.

Conclusion

Over the years, researchers have been able to identify any high-risk factors for HIV and other common STDs. With that, they have been able to raise awareness and work to reduce the high HIV and STD rates on an international level. One of those high-risk factors for HIV has been migration, especially in South Africa. With that, we are one step closer to causing a significant decline in the STD and HIV prevalence and preserving people’s lives.

References

https://www.amfar.org/worldwide-aids-stats/

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-hiv-africa#fnref1

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/authors?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223414

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10918165_The_Impact_of_Migration_on_HIV-1_Transmission_in_South_Africa

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/

Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

HIV information

People can feel completely healthy for years before they even realize they are infected with HIV. Sometimes it may take ten years before the symptoms show up. Which is why regular testing is important for anyone who suspects they have been exposed to the dangerous virus.

This includes individuals who have had unprotected intercourse or anyone who has shared needles or syringes when taking drugs. Adequate treatment is crucial for managing the symptoms.

Since the symptoms of the virus can vary from person to person, it is very hard to generalize it. That’s why the virus has been divided into three stages, each with its own symptoms and characteristics.

  1. Stage 1 – Acute HIV
  2. Stage 2 – HIV Dormancy
  3. Stage 3 – AIDS

Read More: HIV and AIDS

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the First Stage (Acute HIV)

Based on statistics, 80% of the people with HIV during the first couple of weeks, experience symptoms that feel very much like the flu. This stage will begin 4 or 6 weeks after the individual has been infected. At this stage, the body will mobilize the entire immune system to fight the virus. As a result, the symptoms can be the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Upper body rash
  • Vomiting
  • Weak muscles

For many, these are not significant symptoms, which is why many people ignore them. If you believe in having been in contact with someone carrying the virus, it’s best to get tested.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Second Stage (HIV Dormancy)

According to statistics, the second stage of HIV can last more than ten years. But, the biggest issue for this particular stage is that most people don’t even have any symptoms. As a result, they can unknowingly pass the virus to someone else.

As the virus progresses, it will deteriorate the immune system affecting all the white blood cells that help the body fend of viruses. In the end, the system will be more susceptible to various diseases, infections, and bacteria.

To monitor the second stage, blood samples are important. They can help analyze the T-helper and white blood cells count in the system. Once the number of these cells falls to a certain level, the third stage begins.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Third Stage (AIDS)

Based on recent statistics, 17,803 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with stage 3 HIV, known as AIDS. Thirty-three of them were children not older than 13, while 4,308 were females, both adolescents, and adults; the rest were males.

This stage begins when the immune system of the infected individual has been destroyed. Even the slightest and insignificant infections can be fatal. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Extreme and unexpected weight loss
  • Fungal infections (vagina, throat, mouth)
  • Lengthy periods of fever (more than ten days)
  • Prolonged and severe diarrhea
  • Soft and swollen and lymph nodes on the groin and neck
  • Sweating during the night
  • Wheezing

Read More: HIV Modern Treatment

References

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

https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/symptoms-men

https://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/symptoms-stages

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/index.html

Signs and Symptoms of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea information

Gonorrhea is the most common venereal disease in the world. It is a bacteria that cause gonorrhea to transmit through unsafe sex or to come into contact with genital fluids, and this bacterium contain the disease. It is noteworthy, that women have a higher tolerance for the disease than men.

Therefore it is less likely for women to manifest signs of the disease than men, something you should keep in mind.

Vulnerable group

The vulnerable group in this instance is persons with exposure to unprotected sex, people with multiple sex partners, and furthermore drug addicts sharing intravenous needles.

These persons should have regular gonorrhea tests to contain any possible infection.

Clinical Signs in Men

The signs of the disease in men and women differ due to the difference in anatomy and tolerance.

In men, the symptoms may come after a few weeks of infection, and pain while urinating, and is a clear indication of gonorrhea. But should not be the decider of diagnosis. After some time, other manifestations come out.

Symptoms in men

  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Milky pus oozing from the penis
  • Inflammation of the testicles
  • Painful swelling of the penis
  • Redness color of the penis
  • And sometimes a sore throat

Clinical Signs in Women

Women have a low manifestation of the disease, because it is common for women to have urinary tract illnesses. Therefore, when the symptoms of gonorrhea come out, women can easily confuse it with vaginal yeast and other several bacterial infections, common to women. Nevertheless, the common gonorrhea symptoms are:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Pain or itchy feeling when urinating
  • Heavy menses
  • Fever
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sore throat
  • Pain when having sex

Read More: Gonorrhea general information

Gonorrhea in Other Parts of the Body

If you do go not seek treatment, the bacteria may spread to infect other body parts. Primarily, gonorrhea attacks any body part with a mucous membrane. Some of those include the rectum the throat, and the eyes.

The Rectum

Cases of spreading of gonorrhea through anal sex are rampant, and you should not ignore the risk. The riskof getting gonorrhea is more common in gay communities and heterosexuals engaging in anal sex. Symptoms of anal gonorrhea include:

  • Pain in the anus
  • Itchy feeling around the anus
  • Inflammation in the rectum

Read More: Gonorrhea in the Anus and Rectum

Throat

Practicing oral sex with a person infected with gonorrhea is an exposure to the disease. The gonococcal bacterium can infect your throat through the saliva, and many of the symptoms resemble common fever, cold and the flu. When this happens, your body displays these signs:

  • Fever
  • Swelling of your lymph glands
  • Sore and hoarse throat
  • Fever and headaches

The Eye

The contact of the gonococcal bacterium with the eyes brings about gonorrhea of the eye. It is not common, yet the most damaging. The disease damages the cornea and optical nerves, thus causing blindness. Some of the signs are:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Thick sticky discharge from the eye
  • Poor vision

Read More: Gonorrhea in the Eye

Read More: Testing and Diagnosis of Gonorrhea

References

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

https://www.gardp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/STI_Gonorrhea_Strategy_Proposal.pdf

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