Sexually Transmitted Infections – Break the Silence to Protect Your Health
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs) are a serious cause of ill health prevalent around the world. According to WHO, over 1 million STIs are acquired daily globally (Newman et al., 2013). Lack of awareness is one of the major reasons behind the fatality of STIs. This includes stereotyping, stigmatization, unawareness regarding modes of transmission and prevention. Early clinical detection of STIs remains the most important factor in reducing the disease morbidity and mortality.
Many people hesitate in getting tested for STIs before having sexual intercourse. Due to the stigma attached, people also feel uncomfortable asking their partners about being tested. The question arises, why the shame when the matter is about health? Do we feel ashamed to test diabetes, hypertension or for heart attack?
STIs are infections that are transmitted through different modes such as oral, vaginal and anal sex and body fluids. Undiagnosed and untreated STI is a public health concern. Therefore, STI screening is essential for every individual once in their lifetime. Literature points out that even people who are not sexually active can also develop STIs (Boskey, 2016).
It can be inferred that people having oral sex and getting exposed to infected body fluids together are at a significant risk for developing STIs. Thus, this makes it once again crucial to be tested for STIs not only after marriage but also before marriage as well.
STIs in pregnant women have a high chance of the infection/disease being transmitted to the child she is bearing. This route of transmission is known as vertical transmission (mother-to-child transmission). If the disease in the mother is detected before she conceives a child, the unborn child can be saved from being infected (Janet S. St. Lawrence,2002). Thus, by testing earlier we not only save the life of parents but the unborn children as well.
WHO, 2013 recommends for specific screening and laboratory tests for the detection of STIs. NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) are usually recommended for evaluating STIs including Gonorrhea, Genital Mycoplasmas, Chlamydial infections and Trichomoniasis. In addition, following are some disease specific diagnostic tests recommended by WHO:
Gonorrhea: Culture tests also provide essential data for the confirmation of STI pathogens.
Trichomoniasis: Appropriate cultures & POC (point of care) testing have higher sensitivity
Bacterial vaginosis: For the appropriate diagnoses of BV, Amsel’s criterion is highly recommended which has at least three of the following four characteristics – PH>4.5, vaginal discharge white to grey in color with homogenous adherence, presence of clue cells and with amine smell
Candidiasis: Combination of serology testing, microscopy of appropriate specimen’s sample and classic clinical features could be helpful in establishing the diagnosis of candidiasis. Furthermore, culture testing of genital discharge may provide essentials for detecting the pathogen
Herpes Simplex: The viral antigens of herpes simplex can be determined through immunoperoxidase (IP), immunofluorescence(IF) staining, pap smears and through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing
Syphilis: Diagnostic tests required for detecting phentermine syphilis antigen includes: Serology testing, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and Direct Fluorescent Antibody (DFA) tests. Serology testing are further divided into two categories namely: 1. The non-treponemal tests which includes Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR), Wasserman Reaction (WR), Toluidine Red Unheated Serum Test (TRUST) and Veneral Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) tests. 2. The treponemal tests. Those includes ELISA, T.pallidum haemagglutination assay (TPHA), chemiluminescence, POCs and T. pallidum passive particle agglutination assay (TPPA)
HIV/AIDS: For HIV, the most significant tests are confirmatory assays inclusive of IFAs, Western blot (WB) and Line Immunoassays (LIAs) tests. Rapid tests and ELISA test also mark for higher sensitivity. Together with this, CD4 cells monitoring via blood specimen testing are vital for confirming HIV/AIDS. Among STIs, HIV (human immune-deficiency virus) is one of the most common yet fatal infections that remain a public health challenge worldwide. For the year of 2015, WHO claims that around 1.1 million people died suffering from HIV related causes (who.int, 2016). Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immune-deficiency virus syndrome). There exists no cure exists for HIV/AIDS. However, HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) improves outcomes for patients. People at high risk for developing HIV/AIDS should undergo HAART, as well, to prevent transmission and live long, healthier and productive lives.
Boskey, E. (2016). Want to know why YOU should get tested for STDs? Here are 5 reasons…. Verywell. Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/five-reasons-everyone-should-get-tested-for-stds-3133081
Janet S. St. Lawrence, J. (2002). STD Screening, Testing, Case Reporting, and Clinical and Partner Notification Practices: A National Survey of US Physicians. American Journal Of Public Health, 92(11), 1784. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447329/
Newman, L., Kamb, M., Hawkes, S., Gomez, G., Say, L., Seuc, A., & Broutet, N. (2013). Global Estimates of Syphilis in Pregnancy and Associated Adverse Outcomes: Analysis of Multinational Antenatal Surveillance Data. Plos Med, 10(2), e1001396. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001396 Who.int, (2016).
HIV/AIDs Factsheet. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/ Who.int, (2013). Laboratory diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus. Edited by M. Unemo. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85343/1/9789241505840_eng.pdf
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