Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Vaccines, Prevention, and Control

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Wash before and after intercourse. Get a vaccination for hepatitis B. This is a series of three shots. Get tested for HIV.

Women's Health Care Physicians

If you have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse , get help. People who are drunk or on drugs often fail to have safe sex. Consider that not having sex is the only sure way to prevent STDs. To prevent giving an STD to someone else: Stop having sex until you see a doctor and are treated. Follow your doctor's instructions for treatment. Use condoms whenever you have sex, especially with new partners.

Don't resume having sex unless your doctor says it's OK. Return to your doctor to get rechecked. Not all STIs are symptomatic , and symptoms may not appear immediately after infection.

In some instances a disease can be carried with no symptoms, which leaves a greater risk of passing the disease on to others. Depending on the disease, some untreated STIs can lead to infertility , chronic pain or death.

The presence of an STI in prepubescent children may indicate sexual abuse. A sexually transmitted infection present in a pregnant woman may be passed on to the infant before or after birth. Twenty-seven different viruses have been identified in semen. Information on whether or not transmission occurs or whether the viruses cause disease is uncertain.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases | ScienceDirect

Some of these microbes are known to be sexually transmitted. Many STIs are more easily transmitted through the mucous membranes of the penis , vulva , rectum , urinary tract and less often—depending on type of infection the mouth , throat , respiratory tract and eyes. Mucous membranes differ from skin in that they allow certain pathogens into the body. The amount of contact with infective sources which causes infection varies with each pathogen but in all cases, a disease may result from even light contact from fluid carriers like venereal fluids onto a mucous membrane.

Healthcare professionals suggest safer sex , such as the use of condoms , as a reliable way of decreasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases during sexual activity, but safer sex cannot be considered to provide complete protection from an STI. The transfer of and exposure to bodily fluids, such as blood transfusions and other blood products, sharing injection needles , needle-stick injuries when medical staff are inadvertently jabbed or pricked with needles during medical procedures , sharing tattoo needles, and childbirth are other avenues of transmission.

These different means put certain groups, such as medical workers, and haemophiliacs and drug users, particularly at risk. It is possible to be an asymptomatic carrier of sexually transmitted diseases.

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In particular, sexually transmitted diseases in women often cause the serious condition of pelvic inflammatory disease. Testing may be for a single infection, or consist of a number of tests for a range of STIs, including tests for syphilis , trichomonas , gonorrhea, chlamydia , herpes , hepatitis and HIV. No procedure tests for all infectious agents. Early identification and treatment results in less chance to spread disease, and for some conditions may improve the outcomes of treatment. There is often a window period after initial infection during which an STI test will be negative.

During this period, the infection may be transmissible. The duration of this period varies depending on the infection and the test. Diagnosis may also be delayed by reluctance of the infected person to seek a medical professional.


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One report indicated that people turn to the Internet rather than to a medical professional for information on STIs to a higher degree than for other sexual problems. Until the s, [ citation needed ] STIs were commonly known as venereal diseases , the word venereal being derived from the Latin word venereus , and meaning relating to sexual intercourse or desire, ultimately derived from Venus , the Roman goddess of love.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strategies for reducing STD risk include: vaccination, mutual monogamy , reducing the number of sexual partners and abstinence. The most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of STIs is to avoid contact of body parts or fluids which can lead to transfer with an infected partner.

Not all sexual activities involve contact: cybersex , phonesex or masturbation from a distance are methods of avoiding contact. Proper use of condoms reduces contact and risk.


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  6. Although a condom is effective in limiting exposure, some disease transmission may occur even with a condom. Both partners can get tested for STIs before initiating sexual contact, or before resuming contact if a partner engaged in contact with someone else. Many infections are not detectable immediately after exposure, so enough time must be allowed between possible exposures and testing for the tests to be accurate. Certain STIs, particularly certain persistent viruses like HPV, may be impossible to detect with current medical procedures.

    Some treatment facilities utilize in-home test kits and have the person return the test for follow-up. Other facilities strongly encourage that those previously infected return to ensure that the infection has been eliminated. Novel strategies to foster re-testing have been the use of text messaging and email as reminders. These types of reminders are now used in addition to phone calls and letters. Prevention counseling is most effective if provided in a nonjudgmental and empathetic manner appropriate to the person's culture, language, gender, sexual orientation, age, and developmental level.

    Prevention counseling for STIs is usually offered to all sexually active adolescents and to all adults who have received a diagnosis, have had an STI in the past year, or have multiple sex partners. Such interactive counseling, which can be resource intensive, is directed at a person's risk, the situations in which risk occurs, and the use of personalized goal-setting strategies.

    The development of vaccines to protect against gonorrhea is ongoing. Condoms and female condoms only provide protection when used properly as a barrier, and only to and from the area that they cover. Uncovered areas are still susceptible to many STIs.

    How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    In the case of HIV, sexual transmission routes almost always involve the penis, as HIV cannot spread through unbroken skin; therefore, properly shielding the penis with a properly worn condom from the vagina or anus effectively stops HIV transmission. An infected fluid to broken skin borne direct transmission of HIV would not be considered "sexually transmitted", but can still theoretically occur during sexual contact.

    This can be avoided simply by not engaging in sexual contact when presenting open, bleeding wounds. Other STIs, even viral infections, can be prevented with the use of latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms as a barrier. Some microorganisms and viruses are small enough to pass through the pores in natural skin condoms, but are still too large to pass through latex or synthetic condoms.

    Proper male condom usage entails: [ citation needed ]. In order to best protect oneself and the partner from STIs, the old condom and its contents are to be treated as infectious and properly disposed of.

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    A new condom is used for each act of intercourse, as multiple usage increases the chance of breakage, defeating the effectiveness as a barrier. In case of female condoms, the device consists of two rings, one in each terminal portion. The larger ring should fit snugly over the cervix and the smaller ring remains outside the vagina, covering the vulva. This system provides some protection of the external genitalia. The cap was developed after the cervical diaphragm.

    Both cover the cervix and the main difference between the diaphragm and the cap is that the latter must be used only once, using a new one in each sexual act. The diaphragm, however, can be used more than once. Researchers had hoped that nonoxynol-9 , a vaginal microbicide would help decrease STI risk. Trials, however, have found it ineffective [87] and it may put women at a higher risk of HIV infection.

    Specific age groups, persons who participate in risky sexual behavior, or those have certain health conditions may require screening. The CDC recommends that sexually active women under the age of 25 and those over 25 at risk should be screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea yearly. Appropriate times for screening are during regular pelvic examinations and preconception evaluations.

    In the case of rape, the person can be treated prophylacticly with antibiotics. In , it was estimated that million people were infected with either syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis. More than 1. The first well-recorded European outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in when it broke out among French troops besieging Naples in the Italian War of — Diamond concludes,"[B]y , the disease had evolved into the disease with the symptoms so well known to us today.