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INTRODUCTION

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases (VD) are diseases spread by sexual contact. They include more than 20 diseases, caused by organisms as diverse as bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa (one-celled organisms) and even insects (see Table).

How common are STDs?

STD are one of the most common communicable diseases in the world.Unfortunately, accurate statistics are not available because STD are not notifiable in some countries or because a significant number of cases are treated by private physicians who do not report all the cases that they see. Nevertheless, the statistics below should give some indication of the size of the problem:-.

On a global scale, the World Heawlth Organisation (WHO) has estimated that gonorrhoea affccts 200 million people and syphilis, about 40 million people each year. WHO has also estimated that 5% of teenagers and young adults have STD each year. STD are now occurring in younger individuals because of earlier sexual maturity and more needs to be done about educating the young about STD.

How are STDs transmitted?

One of the most important concepts to understand about STD or indeed any other communicable disease is what doctors call the mode of transmission. This is the way iinfections are trasnmitted. The common cold virus for example, is transmitted through drioplet infection. It is carried in tiny droplets of saliva expelled from a persons mouth when he coughs, sneezes and even when he speaks. These may be inhaled by another person, resulting in an infection. you can catch the common cold through simply walking through a crowded department store. STD are different. They are spread through the air but through sexual contact. There are some instances where STD may be spread non-sexually such as from an infected mother to her child or through blood contact as in the case of Hepatitis B and AIDS, but these are much less common in comparison with sexual transmission. Therefore, if nothing else, you must remember that STD are spread primarily through sexual contact. Accordingly, you can minimise the risk of contracting STD by taking precautions during sex.

Organism STD
Bacteria  
Chlamydia trachomatis Nonspecific genital infection
Lymphogranuloma venereum
Calymmatobacterium granulomatis Granuloma inguinale
Gardnerella vaginalis Nonspecific vaginitis
Haemophilus ducreyi  Chancroid 
Neisseria gonorrhoeae  Gonorrhoea 
Treponema pallidum  Syphilis 
   
Viruses  
Hepatitis B virus Hepatitis B
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)  Genital herpes 
Human Immune Deficiency virus (HIV)  Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) 
Molluscum contagiosum virus  Genital molluscum contagiosum 
Human papilloma virus (HPV)  Genital warts 
   
Fungi  
Candida albicans Genital candidiasis
   
Protozoa  
Trichomonas vaginalis Trichomoniasis
   
Insects  
Phthirus pubis  Pediculosis pubis (pubic lice)
Sarcoptes scabiei Scabies