Early screening enables quick treatment and has in some cases literally saved lives. It is important to know what to look out for so below is some info on different types of STIs.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a tiny bacterium that causes an infection in the genital area. It can get into the urethra which is the delicate tube that runs from your bladder, and the cervix or the uterus. It can also infect the anus and occasionally, it can spread from the genital area and affect the liver and joints

Symptoms

Often people do not know they have the infection because in many cases there are no signs or symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually differ between women and men.
Women with Chlamydia may notice that they have: cramp pain in the lower abdomen, menstruation period changes and become longer or heavier and more painful. Women with Chlamydia may also experience pain when passing urine, bleeding during and after having sex and a change in their vaginal discharge colour and smell.

Men with Chlamydia may notice: discharge from the penis, pain when passing urine and if the infection has spread up the urethra then they will experience swollen and sore testes

Treatment

Chlamydia can be effectively treated. Often just a single dose of antibiotics can clear it up. In some cases however a longer course of treatment may be needed. If you think you have been at risk of getting Chlamydia, it’s best to have a sexual health check. If found out that you do have Chlamydia, people you have had sex with in the past few months may be need to also be tested. This is to make sure that they are cleared of the infection and to prevent you being re-infected by your partner or partners.

Genital Warts

Genital warts causes fleshy growths or bumps seen most often on and around the genitals, anus and inside the vagina.

Symptoms

Genital warts are usually not painful and visible. People may find a growth or lumps in their genital areas, vagina and anus. Women may discover that they have genital warts after they have had a Pap smear.

Treatment

There is no cure for genital warts. In most cases genital warts go away on their own without any treatment. If you think you have warts or have been exposed to genital warts, then consult your general practitioner for a check up.

Herpes

Herpes is a viral infection. It enters the body, and travels up the nerve fibres and live in nerve cells around the spinal cord in the lower back. Usually it lies dormant unless some factors have trigger an outbreak. These factors may include menstruation (periods), emotional upset and sexual activity. Sunburn can also trigger off a herpes episode such as cold sore on lips and other parts of the face.

Symptoms

Symptoms of herpes usually occur in several stages over seven to ten days. Symptoms includes: a mild tingling or itching that lasts over 12 to 24 hours, small blisters with swelling and redness around the blisters which may be irritating, painful and sore to touch. After a couple of days, these blisters break and form shallow ulcers. Once the ulcers heal, they leave a patch of red or peeling skin for a few days. Further, the glands in the groin may become swollen and tender.

Treatment

Unfortunately there is no medication that can completely cure herpes. However, it is important to consult your general practitioner for medical advice, because he/she can recommend medications available to reduce the duration and severity of herpes infection. It is also advised that you keep the open blisters as dry as possible. You can wear loose and comfortable clothing. You can apply anaesthetic gels to reduce pain.

HIV/AIDS

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). People who are infected with the virus are said to be HIV positive. Over time (usually many years), HIV affects a person’s immune system, which means the body is less able to protect itself from disease. When the immune system has been badly damaged by HIV infection, people can get sick from any infection or cancers. At this stage of HIV infection, a person is said to have AIDS.

Symptoms

Many people with HIV can survive without symptoms for up to 10 years. In this regard, the only way to know if you are HIV positive is to be tested. Some symptoms associated with advanced HIV infection include: rapid weight loss, frequent diarrhoea, frequent tiredness, night sweats and fever, and white spots on the mouth and tongue.

Treatment

There is no vaccine or cure for HIV. Currently there are combinations of drugs to help manage HIV and possibly increase the time a person remains well.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea. These bacteria can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, which can lead to chronic pain and the inability to get pregnant.

Symptoms

Infection with gonorrhoea may have no symptoms at all. when symptoms do occur they may be different between men and women.

In men symptoms may include a discharge (pus) from the penis and/or a burning sensation when urinating. While in women symptoms may appear as an unusual discharge from the vagina or pain when urinating. Women may feel deep abdominal pain during vaginal sex.

Gonorrhoea can also infect the anus and the throat.

Treatment

Gonorrhoea is treated with a dose of antibiotics. A follow up medical examination is taken when all the antibiotics are finished to make sure the infection is gone.

Hepititis A

A viral infection that affects the liver. Can be sexually transmitted but more commonly through contaminated food or water, not washing hands after the toilet or before touching food.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include dark urine, mild fu like symptoms, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes. Often no symptoms. No known cure – long term medical supervision required. Bed rest and adequate fuids. Alcohol and some other drugs should be avoided. Can be immunised for prevention.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus infects the liver and spreads through blood, semen, vagina fluid and breast milk. Sexually transmitted. Symptoms appear 4 weeks to 6 months after transmission. Very common in Africa, Asia, South America.

Symptoms

You may have no symptoms at all or you may contract a severe illness with jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fever, loss of appetite, tiredness and pain in the joints. In extreme cases hepatitis can cause serious liver damage. Can have no symptoms.

Treatment

There is no cure for hepatitis B; however, there are new treatments available for people who are carriers. Around 10 per cent of people who get the virus will have it for life. Generally the illness lasts for months and passes eventually with rest. Most people are then provided with immune and get protected from getting the disease again.

Hepititis C

A viral infection that affects the liver. Transmitted via infected blood (sharing needles, syringes, etc) and sometimes through sexual contact.

Symptoms

Mild fu-like symptoms, tiredness, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes. Often no symptoms.

Treatment

No known cure – long term medical supervision required. Rest, exercise and a well balanced diet avoiding alcohol and drugs. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Some antiviral treatments are now available.

Syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. If left untreated can result in very serious complications(including damage to the heart, brain and spinal cord).

Symptoms

People often have no symptoms. When symptoms occur they usually appear in three stages: In 0- 3 weeks, a pesron may experience a painless clear ulcer usually on the genitals, enlargement of glands in groin, rash on body, fu-like illness, hair loss. In a period of 0- 2 months Symptoms may include swollen glands and a rash (especially on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands). There may be no symptoms.

Treatment

Penicillin injections are given in the early stages. Complex medical treatments may then be required for the infection that has been left untreated for a long period.


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Women only. Caused by the spread of infection into the upper part of a woman’s reproductive system (the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes).

Can be a result of earlier STI (such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea) but not everyone who has had these STIs will get PID. Occasionally develops after termination of pregnancy or other surgical procedures.

Symptoms

Symptoms are not always obvious. Low abdominal pain, pain during sex, smelly vaginal discharge, irregular bleeding and/or high fever.

Treatment

Antibiotics

Pubic lice

A pubic lice infection is caused by the parasitic insect called crab louse Phthirus pubis, which spend its entire life on human hair and exclusively feed on human blood. In most cases pubic lice are passed from person to person where pubic hair (or other hair) touches. Lice can also be spread through sharing clothing, towels or sheets.

Symptoms

People with pubic lice experience itchiness in the pubic hair and occasionally in other hairy body parts, such as a man’s chest. when you take a close look you may discover tiny crab like lice.

Treatment

Effective lotions are available from pharmacies and you do not need a prescription. Further, you General practition may advise you to take care of your clothes, towels and bedding by washing them in hot water. It is also important to tell your sexual partner/partners so they can get treatment too.

Scabies

Scabies is caused by the scabies mite, small mites that burrow into the skin.. This infection is easily spread by skin to skin contact, not necessarily sexual.

Symptoms

People with scabies often experience intense itching of skin. The itching usually gets worse in bed or after a shower.

Treatment

Effective lotions are available at chemists and they do not require a prescription. Further, all clothes, towels and bed linen should be washed in hot water after scabies is diagnosed.

Trichomoniasis

A protozoal infection often referred to as “trike”.

Symptoms

Sexually transmitted Symptoms appear 1-4 weeks after contact.

Women: Yellow, frothy, smelly discharge, itchiness and soreness of vagina/vulva, pain during sex, burning when urinating.

Men: Usually no symptoms – occasional pain when urinating, discharge from penis.

Treatment

Antibiotics.

How Can I Protect Myself from these nasty STIs?

Use a condom when having vaginal, anal and even oral sex. But remember, there are a few STIs which can be passed on without any sexual contact such as Pubic lice/Crabs which can be passed on by sharing the same bath towel, sleeping in the same bed and close skin-to-skin contact.

Get yourself and your partner tested before having unprotected sex. If you are both free of an infection and you don’t have other sexual partners, then you could be safe. Keep in mind that some STIs may take months to show up on a test and may show no symptoms; this is why it is so important to wear a condom, for your sake and your partner’s…. FOR GOODNESS SAKE, WEAR A SNAKE!