The three upper case and one lower case abbreviated terror that evens out the rich and the poor, the strong and the mighty, as well as the well-placed and the downtrodden; all become mankind, regardless of color or status. STDs can indeed change lives. The concern about this scourge has led to the rising need for early awareness relating to sexual health as a leeway to wholesome living.
In the United States, sexually transmitted diseases have become quite prevalent so much so that over 110 million men and women in that country alone are infected with an STD. In comparison with older men and women, teenagers and young adults are at a higher risk of contracting the diseases.
Presently, STDs termed the most common in the US are those whose incidence and prevalence have been reported most frequently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC Fact Sheet for reported STDs in the United States, 2016, the highest number ever recorded on STDs in the country was in 2016 with more than 2 million cases reported of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis.
Chlamydia alone had 1,598,354 cases at the rate of 497 persons per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea followed with a record of 489,514 cases at the rate of 146 persons per 100,000 in the population. The CDC categorized reports on syphilis into primary and secondary syphilis, and also congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis is that which affects babies and is acquired from their infected mothers before or during their births.
A total of 628 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2016 at the rate of 16 babies per 100,000 live births (excluding those who died in the womb as a result of syphilis infection). For primary and secondary syphilis, 27,814 cases were reported at the rate of 9 persons per 100,000 people in the United States.
STD Impact on the Country
On July 14, 2005, a presentation on the first national study on the impact of chlamydia took place in Amsterdam. The presenter, John Douglas, a director of STD prevention programs in the US CDC stated that chlamydia causes sterility and is most prevalent among American women aged 14 to 19.
Caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, chlamydia is symptomless and if left untreated can evade being detected as it scars the infected woman's reproductive organs. This causes pelvic inflammatory diseases which account for most cases of infertility in women. Babies whose mothers got infected while pregnant with them can get infected through their mothers during birth. The resultant effect is the development of eye and lung diseases in these young ones.
Chlamydia can be contracted and spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. This happens more where there is an occasion of unprotected sex.
Chlamydia shows no special symptoms. The only common symptoms in women are:
- An abnormal vaginal discharge (different color and smell from the usual)
- A burning sensation during urination
In men, the symptoms include:
- Penile discharge
- A burning sensation during urination
Those who should be very much concerned with contracting chlamydia are:
- As many as who prefer having sex with different partners with no condom
- Sexually active teenagers and young adults
- Gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men
- Women younger than 25 years old who are sexually active
- Pregnant women who are sexually active
- Older women with multiple sexual partners
To stay protected, chlamydia has to be detected and treated on time. Routine testing with a home test kit is the easiest method so far.
Approximately 820,000 new cases of gonococcal infections emerge in the US. The CDC only detect and report more than half of these infections. Gonorrhea is more or less the in-vogue disease for sexually active teenagers and young adults in the US. Just like its sister infection, chlamydia, it presents with no symptoms in infected persons. This attribute aids gonorrhea to spread and effect complications on an infected person. It can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
One of the complications of untreated gonorrhea is pelvic inflammatory disease in women. This contributes to infertility from damaged fallopian tubes. Men with untreated gonorrhea can develop epididymitis. When gonorrhea spreads to the blood system, it causes arthritis and tenosynovitis.
A pregnant woman infected with gonorrhea may give the disease to her baby during birth and the infected baby could become blind or have a life-threatening blood infection.
There is little wonder that there is a rise in congenital syphilis from 12 cases per 100,000 live births in 2015, to 16 per 100,000 live births in 2016. This is so because there is an increasing rate of syphilis among women.
Caused by Treponema pallidum, syphilis can be disastrous if left untreated in an infected person. It starts with a painless sore mist specifically at the point of entry into the body. Recently, the rise in the rate of primary and secondary syphilis has been linked to an increase in its prevalence among men who have sex with men. Persons aged 20 to 29 years of age are the worst hit in the population. When left untreated, syphilis can bring about a lot of complications such as stillbirth, dementia, and paralysis.
Because these STDs are in no way easy to prevent in sexually active persons, the CDC encourages everyone involved to get regular testing for these prevalent diseases in the country. Making use of home test kits makes it easier to do thereby avoiding the cumbersome processes in health centers.