An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan

An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan Image

Syphilis is one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. Nearly 6 million new cases of syphilis have been reported each year globally among people aged 15 to 49 years. Since the discovery of penicillin, both, the treatment and the prevention of syphilis have been made easier. However, because of how easy it is for this infection to spread – through oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as passing the infection from an infected mother to her baby, we are still faced with a large number of new STD cases. 

Still, it always comes as a surprise to us to see several new syphilis cases that have almost tripled, as it is the case with Saskatchewan, a small providence in Canada. Recently, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has made public the number of syphilis cases registered between the first quarter of 2019 and 2020. 

What it came as a surprise to both the authority and the public is to learn that the number has almost tripled between these periods. In January, February, and March 2019, there has been a total of 58 new cases of syphilis. The shocking revelation of 158 new cases of syphilis during these same months the following year, in 2020, speaks for itself. 

Understandably, the authorities have been quite concerned with this new information since syphilis can be quite dangerous and cause damage to multiple body organs such as the eyes, brain, and heart. The authorities alert anyone who has been engaging in risky behavior, has multiple sexual partners, or is a sex worker, to protect them accordingly against this and any other STD that can potentially end their lives if not put under control.

The authorities also go on to explain the potential reason as to why there has been an increase in new syphilis cases in the Saskatchewan providence. They have been aware of a similar increase in new syphilis cases in the surrounding northwest and northeast areas of the providence, as well as in the cities of Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert. They suspect these events as a potential explanation for the new rise in their providence.

They have announced a decline in chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, however, they do suspect that could be the result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Like in most countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic, Canada as well has been faced with a suddenly unavailable routine testing due to COVID-19 lockdown.

They are eager, however, to use this time that they have right now to come up with a new strategy that is supposed to help them reduce the overall number of STD cases. Making routine testing available again is the priority number one as well as raising awareness and educating people on how to properly protect themselves. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089383/

https://www.ehealthsask.ca/services/manuals/Documents/cdc-section-5.pdf

The Use of Dual HIV/Syphilis Tests during Pregnancy

Risk Factors for a Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana Image

Proper HIV and syphilis testing, as well as testing for any other STD, is important over each life period, but it earns a specific significance during the pregnancy period, especially when we are talking about HIV and syphilis that pose the risk of being transmitted from an infected mother to her baby. With the new guidelines determined by WHO (World Health Organization) for dual HIV/syphilis testing, we have found a new hope to see an improvement in the HIV and syphilis cases around the world, with a special focus on Africa. 

How can the use of dual HIV/Syphilis tests help support a healthy pregnancy?

HIV and syphilis are two highly dangerous sexually transmitted diseases during the nine months of pregnancy, not only because of their difficult symptoms but also because of the high risk of HIV and syphilis being transmitted from the infected mother to her child that is still growing and developing inside her womb. Unfortunately, HIV and syphilis are still quite common among pregnant women, especially among those living in Africa, which is one of the centuries where the highest population infected with HIV/syphilis has been living in the past couple of years. A study investigated the HIV prevalence by involving approximately 10,000 pregnant women and showed that of all, around 3% of them became infected with HIV during the course of their pregnancy.  

Left untreated and undetected, HIV and syphilis can lead to a number of health issues not only during pregnancy but also during childbirth as well. Transmitting HIV and/or syphilis is not the only health issue that we are talking about. These infections can lead to low birth weight, stillbirth, spontaneous abortus, and many other potential health risks as well.

Luckily, all pregnant women are supposed to undergo proper HIV testing at their first visit at their doctor’s office, as well as throughout the next nine months. When detected in its early stages, HIV can be efficiently controlled and treated, although not cured, so that the negative effect on the little one can be as minimalized as possible. With the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of transmitting the disease during pregnancy, and later during childbirth and breastfeeding, can be significantly reduced, which will have a positive influence on both the health of the mother and the child.

But things are a bit different when it comes to testing for syphilis during pregnancy. While 60% of the pregnant women across Africa have been tested for HIV, less than 40% of them have been tested for syphilis. A study published in 2019 also revealed that 4% of all pregnant women had not been tested for HIV nor syphilis. Syphilis also poses great threats left untreated, which is why it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman gets tested for both HIV and syphilis at least once during her pregnancy, as WHO (World Health Organization) suggests.

The WHO has come to suggest a rather effective method that is thought to improve the numbers of cases in which proper testing for both HIV and syphilis has been done. The method that they recommend is a dual HIV/syphilis test that will be introduced as a part of the regular antenatal care for each pregnant woman. 

By introducing dual testing, WHO suggests that the cost of testing will decline while the number of women that are getting tested and potentially treated when needed, will be increasing, which is just the effect that we have been looking for so long now.

This can be especially beneficial for high burden countries such as Africa in which expenses play a big part in maintaining the good health of its population. With the reduced expenses rate, it will be more affordable to offer more and more women to get properly tested during their pregnancy.

Conclusion

With the new dual testing for HIV and syphilis suggested by the WHO, we are looking at a potential decline in new cases of HIV and syphilis in the future. This testing method for HIV/Syphilis will be of a high value for pregnant women since they are facing the risk of transmitting the infection to their child and with that struggling with devastating complications and a potential spread of the initial infection. 

References

http://www.aidsmap.com/news/jun-2015/many-south-african-women-become-infected-hiv-during-pregnancy-posing-high-risk

http://www.ncsddc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ncs_366_third_trimester_screening_brochure_page_by_page_mechanical_12-28-16.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51254011_Optimal_time_on_HAART_for_prevention_of_mother-to-child_transmission_of_HIV

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02454816

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana Image

If a mother is infected with STIs, she risks transmitting the infection onto the unborn child. If not treated, women risk a miscarriage, birth defects, early delivery, stillbirth, illnesses, disabilities, or even death of a newborn.

Antenatal care, commonly referred to as prenatal care is a healthcare preventive that focuses on consistent check-ups by allowing midwives or doctors to prevent and treat any health complications to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Even though there is an available and effective treatment for anyone with STIs, particularly syphilis, more than 10 million people are still infected with this infection across the globe. 90% of all cases of newly infected come from developing countries, especially Ghana.

The Prevalence of Syphilis and the Need for Antenatal Care in Ghana

In Africa, based on records from 2012, the prevalence of syphilis was recoded to be at 0.2%, with Ghana being among one of the most infected with a prevalence of 8.5% in the metropolis, 4.5% in Kumasi and 3.9% in Accra. 

Based on the World Bank’s statistical analysis from 2015, the prevalence of syphilis of women attending prenatal care has increased by 1.2% from 2012 and is stated to be at 2.7% in 2015. Compared to the reported 6.1% in 2009, this is a drastic decline. 

How Many Women in Ghana Actually Seek Antenatal Care?

Screening and treating pregnant women for a syphilis infection has long been the main focus for doctors. In an effort to stop the transmission of the infection, women have been advised to receive antenatal care. 

Based on a survey for the reproductive and sexual health in Ghana, particularly in Accra, of all the women interviewed, 23% reported having or recognizing STI or UTI infections. But only 7% stated seeking preventive care. Due to the low interest in antenatal care, only 53% of Ghanaian women receive proper care during childbirth by a skilled medical professional. 

Why Don’t Some Women Get Proper Antenatal Care in Ghana?

Pregnant women in Ghana often face multiple difficulties when it comes to seeking antenatal care. For many women, this is a controversial treatment. Due to cultural limitations and distrust in modernized medicine, women still give birth at home.

But, for those who do want to gain access to antenatal care, they experience multiple issues, some of which are: 

  • Insufficient funds
  • Lack of a female treatment provider
  • No permission to get treatment

In Q5 of 2015, 22.7% of women stated they needed more money to receive this treatment, and without an adequate income, these women couldn’t receive the antenatal care they needed. 

Another issue was the gender of the treatment provider and permission to get treatment. 19.5% of all pregnant women in Ghana didn’t want to be treated by male treatment providers and preferred females instead, while 4.1% didn’t get permission.

Despite the efforts to help women safely deliver their child, for many the “modernized” version of childbirth has not made much of an impact. With common STIs, such as syphilis still posing as a serious issue for women in Ghana, antenatal care is crucial for safe childbirth and a healthy baby. 

References

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11898

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

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

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01459740.2001.9966199?src=recsys

Syphilis Is Still A Life-Threatening Issue for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Syphilis Is Still A Life-Threatening Issue for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Image

STIs are a major health concern for pregnant women across the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, with a prevalence of 2.7%. Statistics show that every year, 1,640,000 pregnant women infected with syphilis remain undetected, including those who receive prenatal care. 

More than 2 million women expecting a baby have syphilis in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s around 4% to 15% of all the women in the region.

This infection is the reason behind 50% to 80% of adverse effects for pregnant women that can result in disability or infant death.

But, there is one major problem in developing countries such as these.  Only a tenth of pregnant women actually get proper treatment or are diagnosed with syphilis. 

This emphasizes the need for proper syphilis treatment and testing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the syphilis infection rate is so high.

Is There a Way to Control Syphilis In Pregnant Women?

The technology to control, manage, and treat syphilis has been accessible globally for decades. Syphilis treatment and screening is the best cost-effective way to reduce mortality in infants by boosting the child’s immune system. 

These treatments help mothers stop the transmission from infecting either their partner or child. 

But, despite its efficiency, this treatment hasn’t been implemented in most health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa. Studies show that even though it’s a national policy to screen pregnant women for syphilis while they receive prenatal treatment, many women are not screened. 

This increases the chances of infant mortality rates, which can have a serious impact on both the child and the woman’s health. 

What Happens to Women Who Don’t Get Treated for Syphilis?

Women who don’t get adequate syphilis treatment, are four times more likely to have an unfavorable pregnancy compared to those who can manage their infection. 

If left untreated, this infection poses a risk for the unborn child. In reported cases of pregnant women who failed to receive on-time treatment, syphilis was recorded responsible for:

  • 20% of small births
  • 20% of deaths
  • 40% of stillbirths.

How Can This Problem Be Fixed?

With the currently available health programs for prenatal care, there are some measures that should be taken that will stop the spread of the infection and prevent infant deaths, suggests the Department of Health, USA.

It’s important to make syphilis screening a top-priority for women who are carrying to help identify the infection during prenatal care. This is a basic principle crucial for every country with high syphilis rates. 

If this infection is diagnosed, penicillin can help treat it. Pregnant women should seek syphilis screenings early in their pregnancy for optimal care and proper treatment. This will make sure they deliver safe and healthy babies. 

By promoting the importance of screening and treatment for syphilis, women will be more aware of the dangers they face if they fail to get treated on time. With the help of adequate promotion, women can take stronger precautions to stay away from this infection. 

Conclusion

In developing countries, syphilis infection still poses a serious issue, with more and more women failing to get screened. Treatment and adequate prenatal care are vital for women in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. With proper treatment and on-time diagnosis, syphilis can easily be avoided. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness of this issue.

References

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2019/4562385/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/pregnancy/effects/syphilis.html

https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/syphilis-pregnancy.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11238427

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Antenatal-syphilis-in-sub-Saharan-Africa%3A-missed-Gloyd-Chai/218fdd5577664e2cf93bdce73f1e7baae5542a3a

The Lack of Syphilis Screening Practices for Blood Donations in Ghana Put Patients at Risk

The Lack of Syphilis Screening Practices for Blood Donations in Ghana Put Patients at Risk Image

Millions of people every year are exposed to potentially life-threatening risks from blood donations. While blood transfusions are meant to save a life, when an individual receives unsafe blood, it can have some serious consequences. 

Syphilis can be transferred from blood-to-blood donations since it is a blood-borne infection. If left untreated, this infection can damage the eyes, bones, brain, and aorta. In Ghana, syphilis is a widespread infection, and getting infected with it through blood transfusions is more common than people realize.

Dangerous High Rates of Syphilis Recorded in Blood Donations in Ghana

Based on statistics, blood donations have a high chance of transmitting syphilis to patients who receive infected blood transfusions. Ghana, however, has the highest proportion rate of syphilis-infected blood donations in all sub-Saharan African region.

In a survey from 2014 to 2015, 149 facilities that offer blood transfusions in Ghana have been analyzed to see whether or not they test their donated blood for STIs infections, syphilis to be exact. Based on the results, 48% of these facilities did test their blood samples, but the rest didn’t have such protocols.

In Ghana, there are ten administrative regions, each with its own hospital. But the access to these facilities is not distributed equally. In poorer districts, there are fewer health facilities and less access to adequate blood transfusions.

Despite global recommendations, more than 50% of all the facilities in Ghana that provide blood transfusions, don’t screen their donated blood for syphilis. This common practice is a major health concern and can have serious consequences. 

Why Are Blood Transfusions in Ghana Poorly Regulated?

Each country uses its own techniques for syphilis screening practices depending on the situation, prevalence of the infection, influence, infrastructure, and resource capacity. 

Even though Ghana has access to standard screening syphilis guidelines, they are mostly not followed since it’s very difficult to implement these guidelines locally.

Due to the lack of standard procedures for effective transfusions, this practice is not as efficient and safe as it should be. There are many reasons why this practice is so poorly regulated, and some of the most influential ones are:

  • Under-developed programs
  • Inadequate syphilis screening equipment 
  • Difficulties implementing such practices on the local market
  • Lack of resources

According to the Ministry of Health in Ghana, the program that ensures quality and safety for blood transfusions is under-developed, and most of the health facilities don’t have adequate equipment to carry out testing.

In almost all African countries, including Ghana, many patients use local blood banks to buy whatever is cheaper and in stock. 

But, since testing the blood sample for syphilis requires resources and costs more, facilities are not willing to spend that much if they want to sell these transfusions on the open local market.

Conclusion

Syphilis is a serious infection for many people in Ghana. To avoid transmitting this infection and potential health complications, it’s crucial for all health facilities in Ghana to test their blood before administrating it to patients. But, until this procedure becomes common practice, it’s recommended that individuals ask their transfusions to get tested before they agree to take them. 

Reference

https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(15)00302-1/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336891/

https://www.oatext.com/prevalence-of-syphilis-in-blood-donors-in-angola-from-2011-to-2016.php

Rapid-Response Syphilis Test Could Be Lifesaver in Ongoing Outbreak

Rapid-Response Syphilis Test Could Be Lifesaver in Ongoing Outbreak Image

A doctor is trying to get access to quick-response syphilis testing kits that can give results in 5 minutes. One infectious disease specialist from Edmonton is saying that fast-response syphilis blood test that might be the key to handling the major spike in Alberta’s syphilis cases, which in 2019 have resulted in 12 stillbirths.  

Just a year ago, the Health Services in Alberta announced an outbreak of syphilis. The recorded infection rates rose to the highest peak since 1948. By the end of November, in 2019, the region recorded more than 1,750 cases, 1,200 of which came from the Edmonton area. 

40 of these cases included pregnant women who passed their infection to the fetus resulting in numerous health issues like neurological difficulties, damaged liver, and even stillbirth. Of all of these cases, 12 resulted in stillbirths.

These results are tragic, given the fact that this STI can be managed easily and screening should be done early during pregnancy. That’s a third of infants who’ve lost their lives due to this common STI. No matter how we look at it, it’s terrifying. In Canada, the expected number of deaths from syphilis should be zero, the doctor declared. 

What Is Causing the Syphilis Rates to Skyrocket?

The problem lies in pregnant women who for multiple reasons, such as mental health problems, drug addiction or homelessness, are afraid they will lose custody of their child if they seek treatment or any form of care from the public health system, said Dr. Singh.

How Can Syphilis Testing Kits Help?

The typical way of reaching out for help doesn’t work for everyone. Going to the hospital and booking an appointment is simply out of the question for the vulnerable population. So, it’s paramount that we use a different way to reach out to them and get them the help they need.

That’s where a quick syphilis diagnostic kit can come in handy. With options such as these, testing doesn’t have to be performed in health care facilities, and patients can get results in just under 5 minutes. All of that can be achieved with a simple blood test, stated the doctor.

Before these kits could be used, they have to be tested in frigid temperatures. This will help evaluate their current viability and effectiveness. 

References

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/syphilis-test-alberta-outbreak-1.5482346

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

HIV and syphilis are dangerous enough when they appear alone, but even more dangerous when they appear together, causing a co-infection to occur, especially in pregnant women, thinking on all of the things that can go wrong with both the mother’s and the baby’s health. in the following article, we will look a bit deeper in the prevalence of a HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa and discuss the risks that an infection of that kind brings.

HIV and syphilis co-infection

HIV, short from human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that damages the human immune system, causing the unfortunately well-known disease called AIDS. HIV is most commonly transmitted due to unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal, while it can also be transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids.

Currently, there is a dangerously high HIV prevalence around the world, with an especially high rise in the number of HIV cases in Ghana, Africa. As of 2014, there have been roughly 150,000 people infected with HIV in Africa alone, while it has been suggested that around 91% of the children infected with HIV worldwide are living in Africa.

But it is not only HIV whose rates are high in Africa. There are other STDs to be mentioned as well, with syphilis being one of them. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria known as Treponema palladium. This infection is also transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, with dangerously high rates on an international level, and approximately 8.5% prevalence of syphilis in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The prevalence of HIV and syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa

What is frightening about HIV and syphilis is that they often appear in a sort of co-infection, being strongly linked with one another. Although syphilis alone is highly treatable thanks to the discovery of penicillin, it increases the incidence of HIV infections on an international level.

Syphilis and HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy from the infected mother to her baby in the womb, increasing the risk of neonatal death, spontaneous abortus, low birth weight, and congenital syphilis and HIV infection among many others. Because of the high probability of an existing HIV/syphilis infection during pregnancy, it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman is tested for both HIV and syphilis as early as the first visit to the doctor’s office as well as all throughout the different stages of pregnancy.

A study published in the Journal of Infection investigated the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa. The results showed that the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection is approximately 18.4%, which serves as a relatively high seroprevalence. The researchers continued to explain how early testing and detecting in addition to proper treatment in the cases where there is a positive presence of HIV or syphilis or a co-infection for that matter, contributes to the reduction of the risk of these two infections being further spread among the population.

The study also revealed that when there is an HIV/ syphilis co-infection, the patients usually present with the first HIV symptoms a lot earlier, as compared with those patients where there is only HIV infection being present. This means that by raising awareness, we can work to improve the chances of these patients noticing and reporting their symptoms in the early stages, eventually proceeding to gain access to proper treatment with penicillin and ART (antiretroviral therapy).

Conclusion

In the last couple of years, more and more people in Ghana, Africa, as well as all around the world, have been struggling with an HIV/syphilis co-infection. This co-infection is known to bring various risks and reduce the quality of life of these individuals, but what is even more dangerous is the impact that this co-infection has on the health of pregnant women and their babies.

References

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0953620508001301

http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/33/252/full/

https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(10)00277-X/pdf

Congenital Syphilis is On the Rise with Developing Countries at a Major Risk

Syphilis information

Congenital syphilis is the second cause of stillbirths around the world, malaria being the first. This infection is an incredibly common STIs that has resulted in more than 200,000 stillbirths across the globe. Plus, there are 6 million new reported cases of infected every single year.

In order to eliminate this infection on a global scale, the WHO has made it their mission to give access to adequate syphilis treatment and testing for any pregnant woman. The idea is to boost the overall health and improve the survival rate of children born in developing countries.

However, these countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan African region, have long been struggling to deal with the infection. It seems that they have yet to fulfill their goal of dealing with congenital syphilis.

Read more: Syphilis Symptoms

The Importance of Early Syphilis Diagnostics for Pregnant Women

With the current advances in science and technology, there are adequate medications that can help treat this infection. Plus, it is easily preventable, so people can take precautions to avoid this infection altogether.

For pregnant women, however, the timing has to be impeccable. These women need to seek syphilis screenings early in the pregnancy to receive benzathine penicillin G (BPG). The best time for this screening would be right before the second trimester.

Shortage of Benzathine Penicillin Puts a Strain on Syphilis Treatment

In many parts of the world, WHO has been successful in eliminating congenital syphilis in pregnant women. Twelve countries have managed to eliminate maternal syphilis completely. For developing countries, however, it’s a completely different story.

Read More: Syphilis Treatment

In these countries, there is one major issue, and that is the shortage of benzathine penicillin.

Based on an analysis carried out by multiple research programs for health, of the 95 countries evaluated, 49% had BPG shortages, while 59% stated they had adequate supplies for all their patients.

Due to BPG shortages, 10 of these countries stated relying on alternative and cheaper treatment.

They used ceftriaxone, erythromycin, and amoxicillin. The problem is that these treatments were not nearly as effective as BPG for maternal syphilis. In other words, women who received these treatments could still pass their infection onto the fetus.

The Need for Immediate Action Is Now

According to WHO, 95% of all pregnant women who get prenatal care should be screened for congenital syphilis. Testing for syphilis is of utmost importance for early and adequate syphilis treatment.

This should be the main concern for prenatal care for all countries. If a woman is diagnosed with this infection, she needs to get proper BPG treatment to make sure the infection is no longer in her system.

Product: Right Sign Syphilis Test

Product: One Step Syphilis Test

Monitoring Health Is the Key to Eliminating Congenital Syphilis

Once a woman has been treated for syphilis, especially when pregnant, her health must be monitored closely to make sure the infection doesn’t reappear or progress. This helps detect the infection early on and receive treatment to avoid any potential complications.

Congenital syphilis can be easily managed

Congenital syphilis can be easily managed and treated. But, without an on-time diagnosis, a pregnant woman can pass this infection onto her child and cause premature death, low infant weight, defects, and can cause deformities. As a result, syphilis screening and treatment should be a top priority for all developing countries.

References

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/congenital-syphilis-estimates/en/

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/shortages-benzathine-penicillin/en/ https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/congenital-syphilis/WHO-validation-EMTCT/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/

Syphilis

Syphilis information

This sexually contagious disease spreads by the bacteria scientifically known as Treponema pallidum. It is a disease that is making a comeback in many regions where the prevalence was down. Due to its nature, it is the women that inhibit the bacteria for longer before they show any signs. Nonetheless, there is a need for men to have some screening campaigns. Women have mandatory testing during their antenatal visits. The problem with men is it may take years to feel any signs. In the meantime, they are still active in sexual matters. Eventually, they end up infecting several people before finding out their status.

Clinical Stages of Syphilis

There are four medical stages of syphilis

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Latent
  • Tertiary

The first two stages are more visible than the latter two, as you will find out. Generally, the first manifestation is usually a painless sore around the infected area. This may be in your genitals, rectum, or mouth. The sore or chancre in medical terms disappears after a while. Since it does not cause any discomfort, many people may not raise the alarm.

Primary

It commences about two weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Some people may stay for a longer period without the initial sore.

Secondary

It is the time when sever discomfort starts to come in. In other people, the rashes and sores may include

  • Headaches
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

If you do not receive the right diagnosis and treatment, the disease goes to the next stage. If you manage the symptoms, they may go away and continue suffering from the disease.

Latent

It is commonly known as the hiding stage of syphilis. During this time, the disease remains passive in its manifestation. Sadly, the latent stage may take years to enter the last stage.

Tertiary

Few people reach this devastating stage. At this stage, most of your organs are damaged. Symptoms like blindness, heart failure, mental illness, stroke, and defective spinal cord are common.

Read More: Syphilis symptoms

Diagnosis

You may go for a clinical test or opt for the home test kit. It is preferable to visit a specialist, but due to stigma, many go for the self-test kit. Samples of your blood and affected areas go for lab testing. At the clinic, the doctor may request you to have extra venereal disease tests to ascertain the extent of your exposure. In all the two scenarios, you will have authentic results.

Get tested: Right Sign Syphilis Test

Get tested: One Step Syphilis Test

Treatment

Depending on the results, the doctor will discuss with you the next course of action. In most cases, the prescription is a combination of antibiotics. If the damage is severe, the medication will not reverse the situation. But will help clear the bacteria from the system and prevent further health risks.

Read More: Modern treatment of syphilis

References

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2019/4562385/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160511154209.htm