Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a term used to describemore than 20 different infections that are transmitted through exchangeof semen, blood, and other body fluids, or by direct contact with theaffected body areas of people with STDs. Sexually transmitted diseases are also called venereal diseases.


TheCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 85%of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the United States aresexually transmitted. The rate of STDs in this country is 50 to 100times higher than that of any other industrialized nation. One in foursexually active Americans will be affected by an STD at some time inhis or her life.

The CDC estimates that about 19 million new STDinfections occur in the United States each year. Almost half of theseinfections occurs in someone between the ages of 15 and 24. It isestimated that STDs have an economic cost of more than [dollar]14billion dollars each year.

Types of STDs

STDs can have very painful long-term consequences as well as immediate health problems. They can cause:

  • birth defects
  • blindness
  • bone deformities
  • brain damage
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • infertility and other abnormalities of the reproductive system
  • mental retardation
  • death

Some of the most common and potentially serious STDs in the United States include:

  • Chlamydia. This STD is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, a microscopic organism that lives as a parasite inside human cells.In 2005 there were 976,445 reported cases of Chlamydia. That means thatChlamydia affects more about 3.3 out of every 1000 people.Approximately 40% of women will develop pelvic inflammatory disease(PID) as a result of Chlamydia infection, a leading cause ofinfertility.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes genitalwarts and is the single most important risk factor for cervical cancerin women. Over 100 types of HPV exist, but only about 30 of them cancause genital warts and are spread through sexual contact. In someinstances, warts are passed from mother to child during childbirth,leading to a potentially life-threatening condition for newborns inwhich warts develop in the throat (laryngeal papillomatosis).
  • Genitalherpes. Herpes is an incurable viral infection thought to be one of themost common STDs in the United States. It is caused by one of two typesof herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 (commonly causing oral herpes) orHSV-2 (usually causing genital herpes). The CDC estimates that therewere 266,000 new cases of genital herpes in 2005. It is believed toaffect more than 45 million Americans (one out of every fiveindividuals 12 years of age or older) are infected with HSV-2; thisnumber has increased 30% since the 1970s. HSV-2 infection is morecommon in women (one out of every four women) than men (one out ofevery five men) and in African Americans than Caucasians.
  • Gonorrhea. The bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeaeis the causative agent of gonorrhea and can be spread by vaginal, oral,or anal contact. The CDC reports that 339,593 new cases of gonorrheawere reported in 2005. This is about 115.6 cases per 100,000 people.African Americans have a gonorrhea rate 18 times higher than Caucasians.
  • Syphilis.Syphilis is a potentially life-threatening infection that increases thelikelihood of acquiring or transmitting HIV. In 2005, the CDC reportedapproximately 8,724 new cases of syphilis in the United States. Therate of primary and secondary syphilis is about 3 cases per 100,000people, and the rate of congenital syphilis is about 8 per 100,000 livebirths. Congenital syphilis causes irreversible health problems ordeath in as many as 40% of all live babies born to women with untreatedsyphilis.
  • Human immunodeficiencyvirus (HIV) infection. At theend of 2004, the CDC estimated that there were between 1,039,000 to1,185,000 people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS, and thatabout one quarter of them were not aware of the HIV infection. In 2005there were 40,608 diagnosed cases of AIDS in the United States, with 68of them occurring in children under the age of 13. The World HealthOrganization estimated in 2007 that there were nearly 40 million peopleliving with HIV worldwide. There is no cure for this STD.


Social groups and STDs

STDs affect certainpopulation groups more severely than others. Women, young people, andmembers of minority groups are particularly affected. Women in any agebracket are more likely than men to develop medical complicationsrelated to STDs. Ethnic minorities are more likely to be affected bySTDs than Caucasians, with African Americans especially at risk,although this may be changing. For example in 2005 the incidence ofsyphilis was 5.4 times higher among African Americans than amongCaucasians, a decrease from 1999 when African Americans were 29 timesmore likely than Caucasians to be affected.

Causes and symptoms

Thesymptoms of STDs vary according to the disease agent (virus orbacterium), the sex of the patient, and the body systems affected. Thesymptoms of some STDs are easy to identify, others produce infectionsthat may either go unnoticed for some time or are easy to confuse withother diseases. Syphilis in particular can be confused with disordersranging from infectious mononucleosis to allergic reactions toprescription medications. In addition, the incubation periods of STDsvaries. Some produce symptoms close enough to the time of sexualcontact--often less than 48 hours later--for the individual torecognize the connection between the behavior and the symptoms. Othershave a longer incubation period, so that the individual may notrecognize the early symptoms as those of a sexually transmittedinfection.

Some symptoms of STDs affect the genitals and reproductive organs:

  • Awoman who has an STD may bleed when she is not menstruating or haveabnormal vaginal discharge. Vaginal burning, itching, and odor arecommon, and she may experience pain in her pelvic area while having sex.
  • Adischarge from the tip of the penis may be a sign that a man has anSTD. Males may also have painful or burning sensations when theyurinate.
  • There may be swelling of the lymph nodes near the groin area.
  • Bothmen and women may develop skin rashes, sores, bumps, or blisters nearthe mouth or genitals. Homosexual men frequently develop these symptomsin the area around the anus.

Other symptoms of STDs are systemic, which means that they affect the body as a whole. These symptoms may include:

  • fever, chills, and similar flu-like symptoms
  • skin rashes over large parts of the body
  • arthritis-like pains or aching in the joints
  • throat swelling and redness that lasts for three weeks or longer



A sexually active person who has symptoms of anSTD should be examined without delay by one of the following healthcare professionals:

  • a specialist in women's health (gynecologist)
  • a specialist in disorders of the urinary tract and the male sexual organs (urologist)
  • a family physician
  • a nurse practitioner
  • a specialist in skin disorders (dermatologist).

Thediagnostic process begins with a thorough physical examination and adetailed medical history that documents the patient's sexual historyand assesses the risk of infection.


Posted By: adminThursday, June 17, 2010 Total views: 4176

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