1. What do the terms venereal diseases (VD)
and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) mean?
The term venereal is derived from Venus, the Roman goddess
of love. Venereal has something to do with love. Venereal diseases
are therefore, diseases contracted through love-making or sexual
contact. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is the new preferred
term for venereal diseases.
2. Are STD caused by the same germ?
No, STD are caused by different organisms. As explained in
Chapter 1 (Table 1), STD can be caused by bacteria, viruses (the smallest
organisms known to man that can only be seen with an electron
microscope), protozoa (one-celled organisms), fungi and even
3. Where do STD germs come from?
There are many theories about their origin. In truth, nobody
has the answer. STD have been around since mankinds earliest
recorded history and it is likely that STD germs have been
around in more primitive forms even before man arrived.
4. How widespread are STD?
STD can be found in every country in the world, even though
some countries may deny their existence. It is very difficult
to obtain accurate data on the number of STD cases worldwide
because many countries do not accurately monitor the number of
cases. Estimates from the WHO suggest that 200 million cases
of gonorrhoea and 40 million cases of syphilis occur each
year and this is likely to be an underestimate.
5. Are there more STD today?
Yes, there are and there are a number of reasons for this.
Traditional values and morales have changed. People are more
liberal about sex. They are maturing earlier and starting
sex at an earlier age. Greater emphasis is placed on pursuing
careers and the result of this is, people are marrying at a later
age. The period from the start of sexual activity till the
time a person settles down to a stable relationship is longer.
Casual sex and multiple partner relationships are more common
durint htis period, providing greater opportunity for STD to
occur. Industralisation has also encouraged the migration
of young adults from rural to urban areas. Isolated and lonely,
many of these seek sexual services from prostitutes. The increasing
use of non-barrier forms of contraceptives such as the birth
control pill and the intrauterine device (IUD) in place
of barrier contraceptives such as condoms which protect
against STD such as gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia infection
may be another reason. Some STD germs have also become rather
resistant to treatment. Recent strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae,
the bacteria causing gonorrhoea are resistant to penicillin
and other common antibiotics and require the use of more expensive
drugs. Others, like the herpes virus can be eliminated entirely
and attacks of herpes occurs from time to time. Infection may
be transmitted to others during these attacks. The AIDS virus
also cannot be elim,inated and those infected can transmit
infection to others throughout their lives. Some people with
STD do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. Known
as asymptomatic carriers, these individuals can unknowingly transmit
infection to their sexual partners. Doctors are now aware
of many other diseases which can be transmitted sexually. There
are therefore, many types of STD now than was previously
appreciated. The other reason is ignorance and a failure to recognise
the symptoms and a delay or failure to seek treatment.