Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also known as sexually transmitted infections(STIs) or the venereal diseases. The latin word venereal means sexual love and is derived from the word Venus; the goddess of love. Sexually transmitted diseases are due to infections spread by sexual activity, especially vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. STIs often do not initially cause symptoms, which results in a high risk of passing the infection on to others.
Dr. Dimple Doshi at Vardaan Hospital; believes prevention is better than cure, and thus apart from the precise treatment guidelines; preventive measures are an essential part of our consultations with the patients who have either had it or want to know more about it.
Anyone who is sexually active carries a risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. The factors which increase the risk include:
Early detection and treatment is important to reduce the spread of disease and its late complications.
But ironically; people turn to the internet first to know about their problems rather than visiting the doctor.
There is often a window period after initial infection during which an STI test will be negative. During this period, the infection may be transmissible. The duration of this period varies depending on the type of infection and the test.
The tests which are often used to diagnose sexually transmitted infections are:
Treatment of the STIs is based on the type of infection. For example:
Chlamydial infection: Simple treatment with antibiotics like azithromycin or doxycycline taken for a week.
Trichomonal infection: Short treatment with metronidazole or tinidazole .It cures 95% infections. Both the partners should take.
Gonorrhea infection: Treatment with oral antibiotic like azithromycin and IV ceftriaxone for resistant strain.
Syphilis infection: Treatment with antibiotic like benzathine penicillin
Herpes infection: Treatment with antivirals like acyclovir and femcyclovir or valacyclovir
HIV infection: Requires appropriate treatment by an infectious disease specialist
But vaccine for one infection does not make you safe against other infections. Having a restrained and disciplined sexual life is always healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for girls and boys ages 11 and 12.
If not fully vaccinated at ages 11 and 12, the CDC recommends that girls and women through age 26 and boys and men through age 26 receive the vaccine.
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given to newborns, and the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for 1-year-olds.
5. Use condoms consistently and correctly. Use a new latex condom for each sex act, whether oral, vaginal or anal. Never use an oil-based lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, with a latex condom.
Keep in mind that while condoms reduce your risk of exposure to most STIs, they provide less protection for STIs involving exposed genital sores, such as HPV or herpes.
6. Don’t drink alcohol excessively or use drugs. If you’re under the influence, you’re more likely to take sexual risks.
7. Communicate. Before any serious sexual contact, communicate with your partner about safe sex. Be sure you specifically agree on what activities will and won’t be OK.
8. Consider male circumcision. There’s sufficient evidence that male circumcision helps reduce a man’s risk of acquiring HIV from a woman who is infected (heterosexual transmission) by as much as 60%. Male circumcision may also help prevent transmission of genital HPV and genital herpes.
9. Consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the combination drugs Truvada (emtricitabine plus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate ) and Descovy (emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide ) to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in people who are at very high risk.
Your doctor will prescribe these drugs for HIV prevention only if you don’t already have HIV infection. You will need an HIV test before you start taking PrEP and then every three months as long as you’re taking it. Your doctor will also test your kidney function before prescribing Truvada and continue to test it every six months.
These drugs must be taken every day, exactly as prescribed. If you use Truvada daily, you can lower your risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Using additional prevention, such as condoms, can lower your risk even more. Continue to practice safe sex to prevent other STIs.