Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are very serious. There are several sexually transmitted infections, with these being the most important and common:
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus is spread through vaginal sex, anal sex, , from mother to child during labour, via breast milk and via blood. It causes a weakened immune system and leads to AIDS, which is ultimately fatal. HIV is incurable (life expectancy is about 10 years without treatment) but it can be managed & controlled (life expectancy is measured in decades on treatment) so the key is to know your status and get onto treatment if needed.
Syphillis causes a wide range of symptoms, initially affecting only the genitals (sores, discharge) but later affecting many parts of the body. Syphillis can be treated with penicillin.
Gonorrhoea causes discharge and pain initially but can cause more widespread symptoms later. Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics.
Chlamydia cause few symptoms usually but can cause pain and infertility later. It can be treated with antibiotics.
Herpes causes warts or blisters that may be painful, but often causes no symptoms or is not noticed. Herpes cannot be treated and becomes a life-long infection characterised by repeating episodes/flare-ups.
HPV – Human Papilloma Virus actually infects most sexually active adults. It causes very few if any symptoms but is a key risk factor for the development of cancer of the cervix in women. There is an effective vaccine (must be given to virgin females) but no cure – women should have regular PAP smear screening tests to detect any early pre-cancerous signs that can almost always be treated.
All of these infections can be avoided by using condoms, always and correctly. Condoms, used correctly, offer 80-90% protection.
Colin was a medical practitioner (GP) from 1988 to 2000. Since then he has worked in the wellness field, designing, developing and delivering various products and services. Out of clinical practice for many years now he no longer practices medicine formally but retains a keen interest in helping people become more-well versions of themselves. He acts as a wellness coach and not as a medical practitioner today.
Colin's approach and philosophy is based on empowerment: the notion that people only need a little help to make choices they usually already want to anyway - it's about respect and support rather than instruction or correction.
Colin lives at the Vaal Dam with his wife Cathy. He spends time walking mountains, cycling, motorbike riding, kayaking, sailing and always looking for better & better balance.