If you're concerned that you may have contracted or been exposed to an STD, you will need an examination. We will examine the vagina, cervix and pelvic organs and use swabs to take cell samples to determine if an STD is present. Several tests may be necessary, as many of the STDs can occur at the same time. Results may take several days, but treatment can often be started at the first visit.
Antibiotic and antiviral medications can be given to treat gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, syphilis and trichomonas. Genital warts can be treated in the gynecologist's office or at home. HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B will require referral to specialists for evaluation.
The treatment of an STD varies depending on the type of STD. Some STDs require a person to take antibiotic medication either by mouth or by injection; other STDs require a person to apply creams or special solutions on the skin. Often, reexamination by a doctor is necessary after the treatment to confirm that the STD is completely gone. Some STDs, such as genital herpes and HIV (which leads to AIDS), cannot be cured, only controlled with medication.
Sometimes people with STDs are too embarrassed or frightened to ask for help or information. However, most STDs are easy to treat. The sooner a person seeks treatment and warns sexual partners about the disease, the less likely the disease will do permanent damage, be spread to others, or be passed to a baby. If diagnosed with an STD, follow these guidelines:
Seek treatment to stop the spread of the disease. Notify sexual contacts and urge them to have a checkup. Take all of the prescribed medication, even if symptoms stop before all of the prescribed medication(s) are taken. Sometimes, follow-up tests are important so comply with the instructions given by the health care practitioner. Consult a doctor with specific needs and any questions about reinfection, sexual partner notification, and prevention. Avoid sexual activity while being treated for an STD.
The best way to prevent STDs is to avoid sexual contact with others. If people decide to become sexually active, they can reduce the risk of developing an STD in these ways: Practice abstinence (refrain from sex entirely) or be in a monogamous relationship (both sexual partners are each other's only sexual partner).
Delay having sexual relations as long as possible. The younger people are when they become sexually active, the higher the lifetime risk for contracting an STD. The risk also increases with the number of sexual partners. Correctly and consistently use a male latex condom. The spermicide nonoxynol-9, once thought to protect against STDs as well as to prevent pregnancy, has been proven to be ineffective for disease prevention. Do not rely on it. In addition, condoms are only about 90% effective in preventing STDs Have regular medical checkups even if you do not have symptoms of an STD. Learn the symptoms of STDs. Avoid douching because it removes some of the natural protection in the vagina. Vaccines against HPV and hepatitis B are available and effective.
Most of the common STDs can be cured with treatment. In addition to the discomfort of the infection, some STDs can cause other, more serious, long-term problems, including infertility and problems in newborns infected by their mothers during pregnancy such as blindness, bone deformities, mental retardation, and infrequently, death. HIV can only be slowed, not eliminated, and may cause death.
For More Information on STDs
For additional information on STDs: Contact a doctor, the local health department, or a family planning clinic for free information. Contact the American Social Health Association for free information and for the names of clinics that treat STDs. For information or to discuss personal issues concerning STDs with an information specialist, contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Conclusion Sexually transmitted diseases are a major global cause of acute illness, infertility, long term disability and death, with severe medical and psychological consequences for millions of men, women and children. The World Health Organization states that: "in developing countries, STDs and their complications are amongst the top five disease categories for which adults seek health care. In women of childbearing age, STDs (excluding HIV) are second only to maternal factors as causes of disease, death and healthy life lost".
Estimated new cases of gonorrhea infections (in millions) in adults, 1995 and 1999
Region Female 0.92 North America 0.63 Western Europe North America & Middle East 0.77 Eastern Europe & Central Asia 1.16 8.38 Sub-Saharan Africa 14.55 South & Southeast Asia 1.47 East Asia & Pacific 0.07 Australia & New Zealand 3.67 Latin America & Caribbean 31.61 Total 1995 Male 0.83 0.60 0.77 1.17 7.30 14.56 1.80 0.06 3.45 30.54 Total 1.75 1.23 1.54 2.32 15.67 29.11 3.27 0.13 7.12 62.15 Female 0.84 0.63 0.68 1.81 8.84 15.09 1.68 0.06 4.01 33.65 1999 Male 0.72 0.49 0.79 1.50 8.19 12.12 1.59 0.06 3.26 28.70 Total 1.56 1.11 1.47 3.31 17.03 27.20 3.27 0.12 7.27 62.35
More historical prevalence figures can be found in our History of HIV and AIDS in South Africa page.
Estimated HIV prevalence (%) among South Africans aged 2 years and older, by age, 2002-2008
Age Children (2-14 years) Youth (15-24 years) Adults (25 and older) 15-49 year olds Total (2 and older) 2002 5.6 9.3 15.5 15.6 11.4 2005 3.3 10.3 15.6 16.92 10.8 2008 2.5 8.7 16.8 16.9 10.9