Why Is It Important to Get Tested for STDs?

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STDs stand for sexually transmitted diseases, among which the most common are Gonorrhea, Syphilis, genital herpes, Chlamydia, AIDS, and many others. As the term suggests, STDs are diseases caused by viruses or bacteria that are transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sexual intercourse.

Sex is still a taboo in many countries, including Ghana, which only contributes to the widespread of the many possible STDs. Back in 2017, it has been revealed that Gonorrhea has affected approximately 6.6% of the women and 3.5% of the men in Ghana.  The prevalence of the HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus) was also high in the female population in Ghana. And syphilis has been found to be present within 2.7% of the women in Ghana as well. The prevalence of HIV in the adult population in Ghana was reported to be around 2.4%, being especially high in the Volta Region.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

5 Reasons why it is important to get tested for STDs

Here you get 5 reasons to get tested for STDS

It is an easy and quick procedure

For most STDs, the diagnosis includes taking a blood sample, a urine sample, or a simple swap. This is a process that can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. It is simple, easy, and quick, and not to mention that in most countries, testing for any STD is free of charge.

Early diagnosis is the key

Early diagnosis is the key to most health problems, including STDs. By detecting an existing STD in its early stages, you are increasing the success of treating and even curing it. Although learning that you are struggling with an STD can be scary, it should not hold you back from doing what is best for your health.

There is the proper treatment for most STDs available

Science has offered us proper treatment methods for most STDs, making it even possible for them to be cured. Even the hardest STDs can be properly treated and maintained so that the patient enjoys a good lifestyle and health quality as much as possible. The first step is getting diagnosed.

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

Often STD symptoms are not visible

Unfortunately, many STDs are not causing any symptoms or are causing only mild symptoms until they enter a late stage. Once they enter a late stage, the damage is greater, and the treatment is harder and longer. If you suspect that you might have an STD, you should definitely get tested. For most STDs, their symptoms are not visible by the human eye, and testing is the only way to find out if they are present or not.

Testing helps protect your health

STDs threaten to reduce the quality of your health, introducing various health risks into your life. Infertility, cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, damage to the internal organs, are only some of the potential health risks due to undiagnosed and untreated STD.

Product: STD Test Kit Bundle (One Step)

Product: STD Test Kit Bundle (Right Sign)

Any STD should be reported to a health professional as soon as its first symptoms occur. However, that is often not the case. While feeling ashamed is probably the most common reason to not report a present STD, people, especially in Ghana and Africa in general, often fail to find a proper health professional that can diagnose and properly treat their health issue. It is of high importance to consult a doctor about any present health issue, including a present STD. And here are five reasons why you would consider talking to a doctor about it.

References

https://www.iamat.org/country/ghana/risk/sexually-transmitted-infections

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205863

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

https://tradingeconomics.com/ghana/prevalence-of-syphilis-percent-of-women-attending-antenatal-care-wb-data.html

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

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351246

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8261726

https://www.parkview.com/community/dashboard/the-risks-of-untreated-stds

Syphilis in Ghana

Like many of the other sexually transmitted diseases, Syphilis seems to be following the same trend in Ghana. The women are more proactive in seeking medication for this disease than men. Syphilis is a crippling disease for many people. If you do not seek immediate medical attention, your genitalia and reproductive system may suffer irreparable damage.

Most of the statistics in Ghana are dependent on the few who come forward. The biggest fight should be against stigmatization and ignorance. Many people reach out for self-medication when they notice specific changes in the genitals. This creates a long term resistance to the disease.

Syphilis Statistics in Ghana

It is a tricky affair to have a real picture of Syphilis infections in the country. Most of the people who come forward are pregnant women. In some campaign drives, the pattern still comes out in the predicted forecast. The men are more susceptible to the disease than women. Despite the glaring facts, there is a shortfall of zeal in managing ignorance in most people. Thus, the government must address the position of men in leading the testing and treatment campaigns.

In the women population, the prevalence is high in rural married women. That poses a great danger in society. If the infections are within married couples, it shows the high rates of extramarital affairs. In comparison to the urban women, the prevailing rates are lower than their rural counterparts. The question comes, what are the urban women doing, right? Ignorance might be the difference. In the urban setup, women understand better the options of safe sex. Again, they have better resources and living standards of bargaining for safer sex.

Poverty is a significant indicator of the spread of the disease. From the numbers of positive testing coming from the rural and urban poor, it must be clear that prostitution may be a contributing factor. But more civic research needs to be there for any confirmation of the same.

Mitigating the Spread of Syphilis

Since the statistics coming in are less than adequate, it will take hard work for the relevant agencies to plan for any meaningful campaign. With more stakeholders joining in, the general feeling is, the numbers derived from pregnant women may not be sufficient. So there is a need for more sensitization and testing.

Even without the requisite statistics in place, the government should engage the people for a mitigating policy. The apparent indicators point to women and poverty. Rural women should be empowered to bargain for safe sex. The poor should be given a chance to have dignity and a decent living. If that can be the start, there can be a decisive long term policy for a more significant recovery.

References

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

https://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_1/A119.1

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276484782_Seroprevalence_of_Syphilis_Infection_in_Individuals_at_Cape_Coast_Metropolis_Ghana

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

Gonorrhea in Ghana

Gonorrhea information

It is one of the oldest known venereal diseases to humankind. Yet it is the most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. This is due to the mutation of the disease-causing agents. Most people go for self-medication, making the combating of the disease unattainable. This is not unique to Ghana alone. It is a typical pattern in almost all countries south of the Sahara.

The campaigns against gonorrhea do much less than the intended outcome. As the spreading of the disease continues, most people resort to the traditional healers for remedy. It is easier for treatment at the shrine than in hospitals. It is high time people deal with the stigmatization of the sufferers.

Prevalence Statistics of Gonorrhea

Though it is the women who come forward for medication after testing, the men stay behind. The irony of the matter is the regular statistics in any testing campaign proves that more men have the disease than women. The government needs to address the reluctance to medication in men as soon as possible.

Like in the campaigns against chlamydia, men are shy to come forward and admit they have gonorrhea. Most of them are either in a marriage or in a sexual relationship. Coming forward will expose the extramarital affairs that go on.

Resistance to Drugs

The worrying trend in the recent findings shows that there are many people with a type of gonorrhea that is highly resistant. The tests with conventional drugs are proving futile. The resistance build-up may be a result of self-medication during an infection. After the usage of several antibiotics, the disease develops a high tolerance for regular medication.

It is not a wonder for the disease to be highly resistant to drugs. Most of the government clinics and hospitals lack proper medication for infectious diseases. This gives the traditional healers the power to lead in treating most patients

Mitigation Measures

In the first place, the relevant agencies have to change tact on how they approach this problem. The traditional way of waiting for people to come for testing is not bearing fruit. There must be another elaborate campaign of having people go for testing. In other sub-Saharan countries, the testing personnels visit people in their homes. Though the testing is voluntary, the results are bearing more testing than the wait and see approach.

Many statistics prove that sexually transmitted diseases are an epidemic in Ghana. The numbers keep rising in every testing drive, yet the government is still passive. One of the recent findings is urging the agencies for further observation of the gonorrhea patterns.

Gonorrhea is more prevalent in younger men and women. They fall in the demographic group that is most sexually active and carefree. There is a high need for urgent remedial mitigation.

References

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25562852

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271135531_Gonorrhea_Surveillance_in_Ghana_Africa