Sexually transmitted infections are contracted from one individual to another via anal, vaginal or oral sex. STIs are extremely common. The fact of the matter is, nearly 20 million new cases show up in the United States every year, with 50 percent of these STD cases generally affecting people between the age group of 15 and 25.
The best thing about these sexually transmitted diseases is that they are curable and even the ones that are without a cure can be effectively managed, minimizing their effect with proper diagnosis and treatment.
Different types of sexually transmitted diseases
Some of the most common STDs are:
- Genital warts
- Pubic lice
- Lymphogranuloma venereum
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Hepatitis B
- HPV, human papillomavirus
STDs are becoming untreatable
The fact is, even the curable STDs are now becoming untreatable as they are becoming antibiotic resistant. Health experts see considerabel problems, as there are no other medications to use against sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea.
The STD is among infections that are becoming incurable due to antibiotic resistance.
The CDC states that gonorrhea is among three other diseases that post an ‘urgent threat’ for their potential to become more commonly spread. This indicates that most of the antibiotics once used to treat these infections no longer work. Currently, the CDC recommends treating gonnorhea with a combination of two powerful antibiotics.
Other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and syphilis have shown early signs of becoming antibiotic resistant. The threat posed forced the WHO last year to release new guidelines for treating these three sexually transmitted diseases, which earlier were considered curable. The organization state that drug resistance ‘has greatly increased in the last few years and has limited treatment options.’
The health officials fear that the current antibiotics will no longer be effective against chlamydia and gonorrhea. There have been instances where commonly used antibiotics did not have the desired effect, which were earlier used to succesfully treat the condition. In the United States, there has been evidence that the currently recommended treatment is weakening. This is definitely alarming!
Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Most of the sexually transmitted diseases are curable through the use of antiviral or antibiotic medication. However, there are four that are incurable, which include:
- Hepatitis B
Although these infections are incurable, they can be managed with proper treatment and medication.
Herpes - Herpes is one of the two chronic viral sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes is extremely common – with more than 500 new cases every day in the US alone.
Herpes spreads via skin-to-skin contact. Many people with herpes don’t even know that they have contracted herpes because it tends to be asymptotic. However, when symptoms do show up, they are generally in the form of painful sores around the anus or genitals.
Fortunately, herpes is curable with antiviral medications that help lessen the outbreaks and the risk of transmission. If you have caught herpes and have visible symptoms, it is imperative to consult a doctor about the right antiviral medication.
Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B is one of the leading causes of liver diseases, mainly liver cancer. Babies generally get vaccinated against this infection at birth, but adults’ born before 1991 have not received the vaccination.
Most cases of hepatitis B do not exhibit any symptoms in the patient and generally the immune systems fights of the infection on their own. If you have any symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical assistance to ensure your liver is healthy and get proper medication options to reduce the symptoms. Antiviral medications and immune system modulators can help slow down the virus as how it damages the liver.
HIV - HIV is a chronic viral sexually transmitted infection. Thanks to modern medication, many patients with HIV are being able to live long, healthy lives with practically no risks of infecting their partners via sexual contact. The main treatment for HIV is known as antiretroviral therapy. These medications help reduce the amount of HIV virus in the blood to undetectable levels.
HPV - Human papillomavirus or HPV is very common. Around 9 out of 10 sexually active individuals contract HPV. About 90 percent of these infections go away within 2 years of detection. Nevertheless, HPV still happens to be incurable and, in most cases, it can further lead to:
- Oral cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Genital warts
Infants are vaccinated to protect them against different forms of HPV. Health experts suggest that sexually active individuals must get themselves checked for HPV once every few years. If genital warts appear as a result of HPV, they can be easily removed with acid, liquid nitrogen, creams, or minor surgery.
What makes an STD incurable? How does it develop?
Antibiotics have been commonly used to treat infections, including STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia, for more than 75 years. Nevertheless, the bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases have fought back. Over a period of time, they have adapted so that an increasing number of antibiotics are unable to treat them.
Every year, the CDC states, a minimum of 2 million people in the United States catch an incurable infection. This includes an increasing number of gonorrhea cases, which are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
These diseases develop resistance in two different ways. The organism changes its surface which makes them unrecognizable to antibiotics, or it starts producing new enzymes that further break down the antibiotic. Especially the bacteria causing gonorrhea has learned to nullify the effects of antibiotics.
Which STD should you be more concerned about?
More than 800,000 individuals catch gonorrhea each year. Currently, there is one treatment that CDC recommends –the usage of a combination of two powerful antibiotics, ceftriaxone and azithromycin.
Chlamydia and syphilis have also started to show resistance to antibiotics in some parts of the world, however, there are various treatment options available for both. STDs which do not always show symptoms, can lead to serious complications if left untreated:
- Gonorrhea leads to PID or pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes inflammation of ovaries, the uterus, and the fallopian tubes, eventually leading to infertility. In men, it causes testes infection and sterility. In rare cases, gonorrhea infection can spread to the joints or blood, which can be life-threatening. Gonorrhea, if left untreated, may increase the risk of contracting HIV.
- Chlamydia may also lead to PID in women, which results in permanent damage. Though men suffer from long-term complications if chlamydia is left untreated, it can lead to sterility in some cases.
- Syphilis, in its early stages, can cause rashes, chancre sores, swollen lymph glands, fever, and other symptoms. If left untreated, it can damage the heart, brain, liver and other vital body organs, causing numbness, paralysis, dementia, blindness, and in the worst case case, death.
Expecting mothers with untreated STDs have a higher chance of stillbirth or their infant(s) dying right after birth. STDs can also affect the child during delivery.
What can be done to cure STDs in the future
There is a three-ways approach that can help cure STDs:
- Control the spread of infections via prevention, testing and treatment – A lot more needs to be done here. The government needs to come up with viable STD programs that help individuals get the right and effective treatment.
- New antibiotics – A new antibiotic is now being tested, which has shown promising results. If and when it will be effective and will be introduced in the market is still not known.
- Testing– Robust screening options need to be developed to tell the physicians which antibiotic a specific case of gonorrhea will respond to. This allows them to effectively treat most gonorrhea cases with less expensive, older antibiotics.
Catching a sexually transmitted disease, even the ones that become resistant to antibiotics, can be managed. Most of these infections are treatable, even curable with the use of antiviral and antibiotic medications, whereas some of the STDs even clear up on their own.
Many STIs may not exhibit any symptoms. For this reason, it is crucial to get screened for STDs regularly. Not only for your own safety, but the safety of your partner, and public health.
The best treatment for sexually transmitted infections will always be prevention. If you have an STD or you think that you have contracted one, it is important to speak to your doctor to discuss the treatment options.