Key Facts

  • There are over one million sexually transmitted infections spread everyday
  • Each year, there is an estimated 376 million new infections
  • More than 500 million people are infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • More than 290 million women are infected with HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • The majority of STIs are symptomless
  • STIs like HSV type 2 and syphilis can increase the risk of contracting HIV
  • In some cases, STIs can have a serious effect on sexual health, including infertility and mother-to-child transmission

There are more than 30 different types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are known to be transmitted through sexual activity and contact. Eight of these 30 pathogens are linked to the greatest incidence of STD’s. Of the 8, only 4 can currently be cured. These include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The four that are incurable are hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, and HPV. However, the symptoms of these diseases can be reduced through treatment.

STIs mainly spread through sexual activity and sexual contact, this can include vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Some STIs can even be spread through blood to blood, and even mother to child during pregnancy.

Here at Happy Lola we think it is great that people are becoming more sexually liberated and free! However freedom always comes at a cost, and sexually transmitted diseases are a big big problem.

What Is The Problem

STIs can seriously impact reproductive and sexual health.

More than one million STIs are daily! More than 500 million people are living with genital herpes, and an estimated 300 million women have the HPV virus, which is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Furthermore, an estimated 240 million people are living with chronic hepatitis globally. Both HPV and hepatitis B are preventable with a simple vaccination.

Some STIs can have serious consequences, consequences that can be prevented. Below are some of the biggest issues that face those who suffer from STIs, including:

  • STIs like herpes and syphilis can increase by up to three times the chances of contacting HIV 
  • Mother-to-child transmission of STIs can result in stillbirth, neonatal death, sepsis and more!
  • HPV causes over half a million cases of cervical cancer, with over half of those resulting in death
  • STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are both major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility

How Do We Prevent STIs?

There are two main ways of preventing the spread of STIs. These are counselling and behavioural approaches, and barrier methods.

Counselling and Behavioural Approaches

This is the main way to prevent the spreading of HIV, and unwanted pregnancies. This method mainly involves sex education. It also includes heavy targeting of key populations where STI’s may be more prevalent. This would include groups of people who inject drugs, sex workers, and younger generation to prevent the spread in the first place.

In addition to this, counselling and sex education can help to break down the stigma around STIs and STDs, which in turn can lead to people recognising the symptoms, and also make people happier to seek treatment for any STIs they may have.

Barrier Methods

This is the most effective way to prevent the spread of STIs, and it is where you our your partner would wear a condom.

How Are STIs Diagnosed?

Testing for STIs are widely available in high-income countries. However, in low to middle-income countries, tests are largely unavailable. Where testing is available, it is usually quite expensive, and patients will have to wait a longer time to receive a test. In the UK however, tests are available for free with the NHS.

There are several rapid STI tests for infections including syphilis and HIV, which can be done by a simple blood test. More tests are in development, with the hope of these becoming widely available.

How Do We Treat STIs?

There is only effective treatment for a few STIs, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis are all curable by single-dose antibiotics. For herpes and HIV, the most effective medications are antivirals that help to modulate the disease, however they cannot cure it. For hepatitis B, antiviral medications can help to fight it.

Unfortunately, antimicrobial resistance of STIs, particularly gonorrhoea, has increased in the last years. So in the future the best form of treatment may only be prevention. That is why it is extremely important to take notice during sex education and wear protection to prevent the spread of them.

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