STD are among the most common
infectious diseases in the world. They affect men and women of
all backgrounds and economic levels. Sex is the primary requirement
and anyone who has sex is potentially at risk of developing STD.
However, STD can largely be prevented and we will learn how in
this chapter. Prevention is important for secveral reasons:-
1. Apart from causing
physical discomfort, STD can also cause great emotional and social
disruption. STD can cause severe anxiety, depression and guilt;
they may disrupt work, relationships, friendships and even marriages.
2. Some STD are incurabkle
(genital herpes and AIDS) or even fatal (AIDS). If prevention
is worht a pound of cure; where there is no cure, prevention
3. STD can cause serious
complications. Some STD can cause pelvic inflammatory disease
(PID) - a major cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
Ectopic pregnancy may cause the narrow Fallopian tube to rupture,
leading to severe and life-threatening internal haemorrhage (bleeding)
in the mother and the death of the unborn child. Complications
are more common in women because they are likely to be asymptomatic.
Some STD can also cause sterility in men if they severely damage
and scar the epididymes (storehouse for sperm).
4. Some STD are associated
with cancers. Genital warts have been linked with causing cancer
of the cervix and chronic Hepatitis B virus infection with cancer
of the liver.
5. A pregnant mother
can transmit infection to her child before or during delivery.
Some STD, can in this way, cause permanent disability or even
dath of the infant.
Unlike other infectious diseases
such as measles and chickenpox, natural immunity does not develop
after an attack of STD, with the sole exception of Hepatitis
B. This means that a person can contact STD such as syphilis,
gonorrhoea and chlamydial infection again and again after he
has been cured.
Things would be a lot easier if
medical prevention in the form of vaccine is available but unfortunately,
except for Hepatitis B, none currently exists for STD. Work on
vaccines for the other STD has been going on for many years but
so far there has not been a breakthrough. The only prevention
available against STD presently, is personal prevention. This
means encouraging people to adopt health conscious sexual behavious.
Unfortunately, changing any behaviour, especially sexual behaviour
is difficult. This is why STD will continue to plaque mankind,
STD are by definition, sexually
transmitted and you can avoid infection by taking precautions
when you have sex. There are different ways that a person can
reduce the risk of acquiring an STD:-
Sexual abstinence - this
is the 100% safe way but it may not be acceptable to everyone.
Mutual monogamy - this
means that both partners are completekly faithful. You cannot
contract STD unless your partner happened to be infected before
the relationship. In other words you should choose your sexual
partner carefully and remain faithful thereafter. Mutual monogamy
allows a couple to enjoy sex fully, unhindered by the constraints
of safer sex.
Safer sex - this means
not allowing blood, body fluids such as semen, vagina/cervical
secretions and wastes (urine and faeces) into the body. Safer
sex should be practiced whenever you are unsure bout your sexual
paertner. The following are methods of safer sex:
- Dry kissing (social kiss)
- Body to body rubbing
- Sex with condoms
- Avoid oral sex
- Avoid fisting (the use
of fingers or fist)