Six common sexually transmitted infections

Couple holding hands
Couples holding hands [Photo Credit: Oak Brook]

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are serious public health issues that can have devastating effects on sexual, reproductive and general health.

STIs are spread predominantly by sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.

However, STIs can also be spread through non-sexual means such as via blood or blood products, as well as transmission from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth.

Some health experts said STIs increase the risk of HIV infections due to some mechanisms which include breach in the skin.

Here are six common STIs in Nigeria and their symptoms.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is an infection caused by a bacterial called Chlamydia trachomatis.

It takes about one to three weeks after exposure to be able to detect the infection.

Usually, chlamydia does not have any symptoms and can be easily treated. However, if it is not treated early it can spread to other parts of the body and lead to long-term health problems.

Just like other STIs, chlamydia can be contracted through sex without condom, including vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia (even if they don’t have symptoms).

Other ways include sharing of sex toys, when your genitals come into contact with your partner’s genitals – this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation.

A pregnant woman with chlamydia can also pass the infection on to the unborn child.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is one of the common STIs in Nigeria. It is a genital tract infection caused by the bacteria known as Neisseria Gonorrhea.

The most common symptoms of gonorrhea are discharge from the vagina or penis and painful or difficult urination.

It can infect the genital tract, the mouth, and the rectum. In women, the cervix and uterus can be the first place of infection, with the disease later spreading to the uterus and fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Syphilis

Syphilis is an STI that begins with genital sores, progresses to a general rash, and then to disfiguring abscesses and scabs all over the body.

It is caused by the bacterium known as Treponema Pallidum.

The bacterium enters the body through skin or mucous membranes, usually during sexual contact.

It can be spread from the sores of an infected person to the mucous membranes of the genital area, the mouth, or the anus of a sexual partner.

In its late stages, untreated syphilis can cause heart abnormalities, mental disorders, blindness, other neurological problems, and death.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is a major global health problem. It can cause chronic infection and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. The vaccine is 95 per cent effective in preventing infection and the development of chronic disease and liver cancer due to hepatitis B.

Herpes

Herpes simplex virus (HSV), better known as genital herpes, is a contagious viral infection that can be contracted by any sexually active person.

Usually, the herpes virus causes sores on the vaginal area, penis and/or the anus. It can, sometimes, appear around the mouth.

This infection can only be suppressed but it never goes away. It can return, and it is contagious even when there are no visible sores.

Upon observation, a patient can have from four to seven flare-ups each year.

HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, our body’s natural defence against illness.

Once a person has HIV, the earlier they are diagnosed the sooner they can start treatment which means they will enjoy better health in the long term.

Most times, if not properly managed, it can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs), a life-threatening disease.

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