SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases affect industrialized as well
as developing countries. The 20-24 age group is the most
exposed to risk.
Annual incidence of curable STDs (which excludes AIDS) is
333 million cases. Apart from AIDS, the four most common STDs
at present are:
- 62 million cases worldwide.
- Inflammation of the mucosa of the birth canal, of the
mucous membrane of the throat, and/or of the rectum.
Possible complications include septicaemia, arthritis,
endocarditis and meningitis.
- There are no obvious clinical manifestations of this
bacterial infection. If infection with chlamydia is not
properly diagnosed, it can result in sterility in some women
or in mother-to-child infection during childbirth, leading
to conjunctivitis or eye inflammation in the baby. In men it
can cause urethritis with possible infection of the ductus
deferens and the testicles (epididymitis).
- Syphilis is the most deadly STD apart from AIDS. Signs of
this bacterial infection range from skin eruptions to
complications of the heart and nervous system.
- This parasitic infection can lead to vaginitis and vaginal
discharge in women. Usually, however, there are no symptoms.
The worldwide incidence of STDs is already high and
constantly rising. The ever greater mobility of populations
and weakening of traditional customs are increasing the
prevalence of people having sexual relations with multiple
Apart from their specific symptoms, STDs also increase the
risk of HIV infection. There is considerable evidence that the
genital inflammations and lesions caused by STDs increase the
risk of sexual transmission of HIV.
STD control remains one of the main priorities of the World
Health Organization. WHO's strategy is based on:
1. promotion of responsible sexual behaviour;
2. general access to condoms at affordable prices;
3. inclusion of STD treatment in basic health services;
4. proper treatment of STDs (ie. use of correct drugs,
treatment of sexual partners, education and advice, reliable
supply of condoms);
5. promotion of early recourse to health services by people
suffering from STDs and by their partners;
6. screening of clinically asymptomatic patients, such as
women with syphilis during pregnancy.