Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) | Venereal diseases - AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

Sexually Transmitted diseases, also called venereal diseases, are caused by a variety of bacterial, viral, yeast and protozoan infections. They are mainly transmitted through sexual contact. But some are also transmitted by non-sexual ways like blood transfusion, from mother to child etc.

Different types of STD’s have different symptoms and treatment. The commonly seen sexually transmitted diseases are AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea etc.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) | Venereal diseases - AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea

1. AIDS or Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome is considered as the deadly epidemic of modern times. It is a viral syndrome, which destroys the body’s immune system. The patient may be susceptible to all kinds of infections and diseases.

Causative Organism: Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is the organism which causes AIDS.

Incubation period: The incubation period for the disease is very long. The person with HIV does not get AIDS immediately. They may develop AIDS within about 10 years.

Mode of spread: The person who has HIV is capable of transmitting the virus to others. HIV is present in blood and body fluids like saliva, semen, vaginal and cervical secretions, urine, tears, breast milk etc. But it is transmitted from one person to another only through:

a. Unsafe sexual contact

b. Receiving of blood or blood products from infected persons.

c. Use of non-sterile needles

d. Sharing of needles among drug users.

e. From mother to child during birth or through breast feeding

Symptoms: Majority of people who are infected with HIV are unaware that they are infected since the symptoms appear very late. The symptoms of AIDS are:

a. Frequent fever and cough

b. Nausea and vomiting

c. Rapid weight loss and excessive sweating

d. Breathing difficulties and unexplained fatigue

e. Diarrhoea

f. Memory loss

g. Vision problems

h. White spots or sore in the mouth

The body is unable to fight all the infections and diseases and this leads to the death of the person.

Diagnosis of AIDS: Laboratory tests are generally performed for the diagnosis of AIDS. The widely

used diagnostic test for HIV is Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay (ELISA). HIV positive means that the person has the risk factor for reaching the condition of AIDS. Medical experts suggest that only10 percent to 30 percent of people who possess HIV actually develop AIDS.

Some of the measures that can be adopted for preventing AIDS are:

• Testing blood for HIV before blood transfusion

• Ensuring the use of disposable needles

• Sterile instrument in hospitals, laboratories, clinics etc

• Control of drug abuse and sharing of needles

• Advocating safe sex and use of condoms etc.

• Awareness programmes to change the attitude and behaviour of the people

through mass media, theatre, street play etc.

• Community based intervention among risky population.

2. Syphilis: Syphilis is a chronic infectious sexually transmitted disease.

Causative Organism: Syphilis is caused by a type of bacteria known as spirochete. The bacteria usually die within few seconds outside the human body. 

Incubation Period:

The incubation period is from 10-90 days.

Mode of Spread: It is mainly spread through:

a. Sexual Contact b. Blood Transfusion c. Mother to Foetus

Syphilis usually progresses through 3 stages of increasing severity, if left untreated

a. Primary stage: Dull red spots appear on the vaginal wall, cervix, penis, scrotum, anus, tongue, lips or throat which may develop into a hard crusty painless sore called chancre. This may disappear but the disease progresses to the next stage if not treated.

b. Secondary stage: After a period of 1 week to 6 months reddish patches appear in the mouth and around genitals. Other symptoms include non-itching rash, sore throat, fever, headache and weight and hair loss. This is the most infectious stage. If untreated this leads to the next stage.

c. Tertiary stage: The patient develops ulcers in the eyes, liver, lungs or digestive tract. Paralysis, dementia or fatal heart damage can also result. A child born to a mother having syphilis may be born blind, deaf or deformed or may die soon after birth.

Treatment of Syphilis

Penicillin is the best treatment for syphilis. Though existing damages cannot be reversed, it can prevent further damage.

3. Gonorrhoea: Gonorrhoea is a highly infectious disease that can affect the genitourinary tract, genitals, fallopian tubes, rectum and cervix. It may also affect the mouth, throat and eyes.

Causative organism: Gonorrhoea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoea.

Mode of spread: Gonorrhoea is mainly spread through sexual contact.

Incubation period: The incubation period is from 2-7 days.

Symptoms: The symptoms in men and women may vary.

In Men:

• Thick yellowish green discharge from penis

• Inflammation of the tip of the penis

• Burning sensation during urination

• Appearance of pus or blood in the urine.

In Women:

• Yellowish green discharge from vagina

• Pain in the abdominal area

• Burning sensation during urination

• Fever

• Abnormal menstrual bleeding.

If gonorrhoea is left untreated, it will result in sterility, heart disease and arthritis.

Treatment: Gonorrhoea can be cured by antibiotics, the most effective of which is Penicillin G.

Prevention of Syphilis and Gonorrhoea: The prevention strategy for syphilis and gonorrhoea should include awareness programmes regarding their transmission. Attitudinal change and behavioural modification can reduce incidence. Proper clinical diagnosis and treatment are necessary.

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