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

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

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

The Current State Of STIs In Africa

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

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

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

Implementing Prevention Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

The Benefits of an Early Diagnosis for STIs

The Benefits of an Early Diagnosis for STIs in Africa

More than 448 million people around the globe are infected with STIs. 110 million of those infected live in the sub-Saharan African region. That’s is almost a quarter of the entire population carrying these infections.

For many years now, sub-Saharan Africa has been dealing with a high prevalence of STIs. Syphilis, chlamydia, trich, herpes, and gonorrhea are a serious issue for Africa, with Gonorrhea having the highest prevalence in the southern region registered at 4.6%.

This infection, like all the others, is extremely common among the young population between the ages of 15 to 24. If these infections are left untreated, they will have a significant impact on the quality of life, reproductive system, and a child’s health.

So, why is early diagnosis important for treating these infections? Let’s take a look at why early detection and treatment are vital for those infected.

The Importance of an Early Diagnosis for STIs

Early diagnosis for STIs is the key to a successful prognosis for these infections. The sooner people get diagnosed, the better the chances of receiving medications for successful and quick treatment effects.

This, in fact, allows people to have a better opportunity in treating these infections rather than transmitting them. An early diagnosis helps people live longer and reduces their chances of developing these infections later in life.

Detecting the STIs early on plays a crucial role in stopping the transmission of these infections to the unborn child or sexual partner. In certain cases, it might even save someone’s life.

By treating these infections on time, people can avoid:

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Birth defects or pregnancy risks
  • Dementia
  • Organ damage
  • Stillbirth

If people do test positive for any STIs, no matter if it’s a parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection, it’s important that they seek treatment to avoid these health complications and live a healthy life.

Most STIs can be treated with simple medications, but if left untreated, they can result in HIV or AIDS. However, AIDS/HIV will require different drugs to suppress the virus rather than to eliminate it.

Why Do People in Africa Have the Highest Prevalence in STIs?

Even though many developing countries, particularly in the African region, do have access to screening equipment for STIs, these infections still remain a major problem for the entire population.

Africa has inadequate treatment and prevention gaps for controlling these infections. Because of the limited access to such treatments, many STIs remain undetected and untreated.

Also, due to the cultural stigma surrounding STIs, many infections remain undiagnosed, and people often don’t get adequate treatment.

If these STIs are not managed on-time, people are prone to developing an HIV infection and transmitting that infection.

Early diagnosis and treatment for STIs are vital

Early diagnosis and treatment for STIs are vital, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To control the constant transmission, people need access to early screenings and proper antibiotics to treat these infections.

While Africa still remains the most infected region with sexually transmitted infections, it’s without a doubt, the most important area to address and increase awareness of this problem and to make screening options, diagnosis, and treatment available for the entire population.

References

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

https://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_2/ii19

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002511

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00054174.htm

https://www.washtenaw.org/1348/Benefits-of-HIV-STI-Testing

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1415-790X2011000300011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en

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

Why Is It Important to Get Tested for STDs?

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

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