Sexually Transmitted Diseases are accelerating the number of infected cases across the globe with most cases from countries where knowledge of sexual health is least available, like African continents. However, the cases are not limited only to African countries, the United States has a major toll on the global STD cases every year due to a variety of reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that youth ages 15-24 are over one-quarter of the sexually active population but represent nearly 10 million new STD cases in the US each year.
In Georgia, the number of new STD cases in the year 2019 stood at 54,726. More than half of the numbers were reported by adolescents aged between 15-24 were 58%.
What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted infections – also known as STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases are infections that spread through sexual contact which includes oral and anal sex apart from vaginal intercourse. Some STDs can have the tendency to spread through close contact with the genitals or body fluids and even sharing things that involve blood or genetic material like used razors and blood donations from an unscreened person.
There are various types of STDs in the world. They include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and HIV. Many of these STDs do not show symptoms in the initial phase and they can persist for a long time, yet they can still be harmful and passed on during sex.
If you suspect of being infected with an STD, then get tested for STDs to know your condition for sure. Leaving STDs untreated can lead to complications and increase the chance of acquiring HIV and cancer.
What is an oral STD?
Many people have a misconception that oral sex is safer than otherwise. This is a myth because the disease-spreading organisms can transmit via mouth and tongue while stimulating the genitals. Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Oral Herpes are the most common oral STDs reported in the United States. Both men and women are prone to oral STD – symptoms like fever, blisters, soreness, and painful throat are common signs of oral STD.
What are the most common STDs found in Georgia?
The following are the most common STDs found in Atlanta, according to the Choices Pregnancy Data –
- Chlamydia – Georgis has the 7th highest number of Chlamydia cases in the United States
- Syphilis – Georgia ranks 8th in the United States for the most cases for Syphilis
- HIV – In 2016, Georgia ranked 3rd in HIV diagnosis in the United States
Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US. It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. Some people get Chlamydia infection in the eye – it happens when you touch your eye without washing your hands after sex – when the symptoms appear around the eyes, it is called Eye Chlamydia. Chlamydia-infected people never show any symptoms for multiple days and even several weeks but if the bacteria remain undercover for a long time, then it increases the risk of a severe condition that can damage the reproductive system in both men and women. Since this is a bacteria-caused disease, it is curable if it is diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage of infection.
Some of the common symptoms of Chlamydia infection are
- Abnormal genital discharges
- Urge to urinating
- Pain during urination
- Vaginal bleeding in women
In 2015, Georgia ranked 6th among 50 states in chlamydial
infections. It had around 570.8 per 100,000 persons) chlamydia infection rate. That is for every 100,000 residents in Georgia, nearly 571 people had Chlamydia. Diving deep into demographics, the reported rates of chlamydia among women was more than two times higher compared to men. That is 779.5 cases per every 100,000 women and 349.3 cases per every 100,000 men.
Of the 52K STD cases diagnosed among adolescents in Georgia, almost 80% of them were Chlamydia cases. Each year, African Americans make up over 35% of Youth STD cases in Georgia, as per the data for the year 2015-2019.
Syphilis is one of the common STDs found in Georgia and it is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Men having sex with men also referred to as “MSM” are more prone to this infection. Syphilis infection like HIV occurs in multiple stages namely primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages.
In Georgia, the rate of primary and secondary syphilis was 14 per 100,000 in the year 2015. Georgia now ranks 8th in rates of syphilis compared to the 50 other states. There were 84 cases of congenital syphilis from 2011 through 2015 – a condition where Syphilis transmits to newborns from infected pregnant women.
HIV is the most contagious and deadly virus that cannot be cured to date. However anti-retroviral drugs have been developed and used to control and suppress the virus and reduce the symptoms if addressed in the early stages.
HIV refers to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that leads to a syndrome called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) which is the final stage of HIV. HIV passes through sex, blood, and sometimes prenatally but not through other contactless means like air and water. This virus progresses in three stages namely the acute stage – where little to no symptoms are seen, then chronic stage – symptoms are popping out and the last stage is AIDS where the immune cells are suppressed and there’s no recovery back.
Following are the most common symptoms of HIV –
- Sore throat
- Weight loss
- Night sweat
- Dry cough
According to the data from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, an estimated 2,381 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in Georgia. Georgia ranked 3rd among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in the year 2016 – up from 5th the previous year.
What are the symptoms of STDs?
Many people with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) do not show any signs or symptoms in the earlier stage of infection. When the symptoms appear, the following are some of the most commonly reported symptoms to keep an eye out for.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of STD are
STD Symptoms in women
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain during urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Lower abdominal pain
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
STD Symptoms in men
- Dark penile discharge
- Burning sensation during urination
- Swelling and pain in the testicles
- Itching in the anus
- Penile irritation
- Painful bowel movements
Common symptoms of STDs
- Loss of weight
- Pain in the joints
- Night sweat
- Sore throat
The right time to test for STDs
For more accurate results, physicians recommend waiting for at least seven to ten days after the initial exposure. However, the time frame may vary for certain types of diseases, like HIV requires a minimum period of 2 months to get tested. This window period is to ensure that your sample is purely reflective and is able to derive 100% accurate results.
How are STDs treated?
STDs can be treated using antibiotics if addressed and diagnosed at the earlier stage of infection. However, the treatment also depends on the type of STD. Chlamydia, Syphilis, and other bacteria-caused STDs can be cured with drugs and the symptom can be reversed. If the type of STD acquired is of viral nature like HIV or Herpes, then there is no cure for the disease.
What if STDs are left untreated?
If STDs are left untreated, they can lead to serious and long-term health complications such as a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. In addition, they can increase the spread of HIV, and cause cancer.