Sexual Health Awareness Week 2022
“VALENTINE IS COMING WHERE’S YOUR….” A song we sing to welcome February the 14th, a day to celebrate love. Incidentally, Sexual Health Awareness week runs from Monday 14 February to Monday 21 February 2022. A great opportunity to talk about everything sexual health especially in this season of love.
This year’s campaign is set on STI testing. There has been a significant rise in STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) more so amongst the youth. Another demographic of interest is the 45yrs and above where rates of infections have been rising steadily.
What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections are passed from person to person through sexual contact and can be viral or bacterial in origin. HIV is an STI. There are more than 25 other STIs that are mainly spread by sexual contact such as vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one million people get an STI every day.
What Are the Most Common STIs?
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B
The population with the highest risk of getting STI occurs among young people (15-24 years old), even though that age group accounts for only a small proportion of all sexually active people.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of people who get chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis (the three nationally reportable STIs) is increasing year by year.
Some STIs do not exhibit symptoms and therefore a person may not know that they are passing the infection on to their sexual partner(s).
If left untreated, STIs can cause serious health problems, including cervical cancer, liver disease, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and pregnancy problems. Having some STIs (such as chancroid, herpes, syphilis, and trichomoniasis) can increase your risk of getting HIV if you are HIV-negative and are exposed to HIV.
People living with HIV may also be at greater risk of getting or passing on other STIs. When people living with HIV get a STIs, they can experience more serious problems such as difficulty in getting rid of the infection.
Due to the possibility of acquiring an infection without symptoms, the infection can progress to disease (when symptoms are experienced). The surefire way to diagnose an STI is to screen for it.
Screening is all dependent on an individual’s lifestyle and risk level. There are no exact recommended times nor is there a single test to check for multiple STIs. Each infection has its own calibrated test. Most tests require a urine or blood sample, or a swab of the area where the infection might be present. HIV rapid test kits such as Oraquick are also available for one to get results within 20 minutes.
What instances would prompt a screening test?
- Sexually active individuals are advised to get screened periodically for HIV.
- Same as above, women are advised to get screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia because they frequently harbor infections without symptoms, unlike men.
- Individuals having unprotected sex. For reliable screening results, the individual having unprotected sex should have been exposed as follows:
- 2 weeks: gonorrhea and chlamydia (and a pregnancy test too!)
- 1 week to 3 months: syphilis
- 6 weeks to 3 months: HIV, Hepatitis C, and B
- Involvement in riskier relationships where one of the partners has HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis C or B.
- Engagement in high-risk sexual behavior includes intimate contact with a sex worker; intra-venous drug users; men who have sex with men (MSM); multiple partners; anonymous partners. Individuals should preferably get tested after contact. Contact is inclusive of oral and anal sex.
- Previous or recurrent infection.
- Symptoms of infection are showing.
We can do what we can to prevent STIs, but they still can happen. There is no shame in getting tested for an STI. Early detection and treatment helps the patient and contributes to preventing future transmission.
This blog hosting site has its author settings default fixed to the administrator of the account. However our blog this month was written by Dr Haji Fatuma and Dr Esther Gitonga.
Our gratitude and thanks from the Leleshwa Team.