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STDS: The Disease Bandits that Steal Good Health, Great Sex and Long Life

Most young girls not only dream of growing up to have careers but also to become wives and mothers. Many of these dreamers will find their visions erased by the silent epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are the unseen social bandits that ruin lives. Chlamydia is the stealth disease that whisks away fertility and leaves young women with those unrealized dreams of being mothers. For those who are unaware of the effects of this disease and how rampant it spreads and the problems it causes, here's a brief description. Chlamydia is caused by bacteria that infects and spreads through the genitals as a result of sexual contact. The victim doesn't know there has been a Chlamydia invasion because initially there are no signs or symptoms that raise concerns. This common STD infects approximately 4 million people in the United States each year and is the most prevalent of all the diseases affecting teenagers brought about by sexual contact. Take a Look at EL Paso STD Testing Sexually active men and women should be screened for chlamydia, especially if an individual has had multiple sexual partners or becomes sexually involved with someone who has been sexually active with more than one person in a short period of time. These are the people most likely to contract this sexually transmitted disease. The doctor may take a sample of cervical discharge from the women for culture or antigen testing at the time of a routine Pap test. Men are tested by a sample from the urethra obtained by insertion of a swab into the end of the penis. A urine test can also provide evidence of chlamydia. Physicians usually prescribe antibiotics such as azithromycin (Zithromax), doxycycline or erythromycin for several days. Consequently the infection most often resolves from one to two weeks, during which time the infected person should refrain from sexual intercourse. The sexual partner should also be treated, even if the individual has no signs or symptoms of the disease, because it can be passed back and forth, continuing to infect the partners. How is Chlamydia prevented. The most obvious way is abstinence, however condom use, limit sex partners and getting regular screenings are ways of keeping from contracting chlamydia and other STDs. Gonorrhea, also called "the clap" is another STD that is common in many young adults, although it does affect people across all age groups. Like chlamydia it is contracted through sexual contact and doesn't always have obvious symptoms at the beginning for women. Men, however, may have pain upon urination or a penile discharge. Untreated gonorrhea can lead to epididymitis in men, affecting the testicles and leading to infertility. Women may get bleeding between periods, painful urination and vaginal discharge. Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes infertility in women. During pregnancy the bacteria can be spread to the baby. Treatment and prevention of gonorrhea is similar to that for chlamydia including antibiotics for treatment and condom use, limiting sex partners and having screening as ways of preventing the disease. Another prevalent sexually transmitted disease is genital herpes. This highly contagious STD is usually spread through sexual contact, and very occasionally from the same virus responsible for cold sores.

The STD variety is called herpes simplex virus-2 or HSV-2. Genital herpes is an STD like many others and"silent," causing no initial symptoms. Some people may have blisters and ulcers, however. Unlike other STDs that can be cured with antibiotics, victims of genital herpes remain infected for life. It is spread through direct contact, not just sexual intercourse but also through kissing or skin-to-skin contact and is often transmitted by sexual partners who are unaware they are infected. The disease affects approximately 45 million people or one out of five of the total adolescent and adult population of the United States, according to WebMD. Furthermore it is increasing in prevalence during the past 20 years. Complications can include fatal infections in infants at the time of birth, infertility, and possibly may play a role in the spread of HIV, the virus causing AIDS. It can make people more susceptible to HIV infection. Like other STDs there are medications that can be taken to help heal sores, alleviate discomfort, and prevent outbreaks of genital herpes. Stealth STDs also include trichomoniasis, a common infection, again where there may not be initial signs or symptoms. Some men may have a mild discharge or pain after urination. Women, however, have a yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. Sexual intercourse can be uncomfortable during a flare-up. Complications for women include an increase of susceptibility to HIV infection if exposed to the virus and an increased chance of consequently passing on the infection to the sex partner. Trichomoniasis can also cause problems during pregnancy, causing babies to be born early or under normal birth weight. Diagnosis of this STD is done by a laboratory test and physical examination of both the male and female sex partners. It is a curable disease with the use of prescribed drugs given by mouth, such as metronidazole or tinidazole. Prevention of trichomoniasis is done through abstinence or having long-term monogamous relationships with non-infected partners. The use of male condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of the disease. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to virus infecting the skin, of which there are more than 70 different types. Many of these can cause warts on hands or feet, while others cause warts on the genitals. Genital warts are among the STDs that are common and can be serious because they can lead to abnormal cell changes and potentially cause cancer. Diagnosis for women is done through a Pap smear. It is important for all women to be screened for the disease since HPV is considered to be the most common sexually transmitted virus given the estimate of 75% of sexually active Americans will have it at some time in their lives. Only a small number of women infected with HPV will develop cell changes that could lead to cancer, but early detection is very important for effective treatment. Men are screened clinically by a physician's visual inspection to check for lesions or warts. While there is no treatment to eliminate the disease, there are treatments for the complications of the disease itself, which is one of the principal reasons for both men and women to have screenings. HIV/AIDS, once thought to infect only gay men, is a serious STD that can cause serious complications and death. The Centers for Disease Control offers comprehensive information about this disease, given its range of complications and insidious consequences. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus which can cause AIDS. It attacks the immune system, creating opportunities for serious medical problems such as pneumonia and other viruses to attack the body. It is not spread by casual contact, as some people still believe, but instead is a sexually transmitted disease or STD because it develops from sexual contact. It also can be transmitted through shared needles used for transfusions or administration of drugs legal or illegal or through breastfeeding. Because the complications for AIDS can be particularly grave, there are support groups, community information forums and special organizations to provide information and help to find a cure for this dreaded STD. But until then, the Centers for

Disease Control (CDC) cautions those who have had multiple sex partners or who have been involved in needle exchange should be tested. Presently there is no cure for AIDS, although like genital warts there are medications to relieve complications. Syphilis is an extremely serious STD. Like other sexually transmitted diseases syphilis is caused by sexual contact. It can also, however, be transmitted through touching the blood or sores of an infected person. Although in the very early stages there may not be symptoms, after the first 10 days or so sores can develop that can spread into the blood and cause many problems. A rash may follow the sores, followed by fever, swollen lymph glands, sores in the mouth, fatigue and body aches. The disease can then become latent, producing no symptoms, and then resume to attack the brain, heart or spinal cord as well as possibly other organs. This is the fourth stage of syphilis which is called tertiary syphilis. Like other STDs it is prevented by abstinence, the use of condoms, and the limitation of sexual partners. STDs affect men and women of all ages throughout life. Because of the seriousness of the complications of these diseases it is important for all sexually active individuals to have regular screenings and to be informed about the signs and symptoms of these diseases. For the young woman, ready to step out and realize the goal of having children, for the young man who wants a family, for the older couple who want a satisfactory retirement free from ongoing health concerns, for these people and more, education and information are critical. STDs can be frightful at first, but there are diagnoses, treatments and support for them so that the victim can receive help along the way. If knowledge is power, as the saying goes, than having information can potentially save lives and dollars as well, reducing the costs of health care, and promoting good health for everyone.