The diseases that are transmitted through sexual contact are known as sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases are those diseases that are transmitted via the mucous membrane and secretions of the sexual organ, throat and the rectum. Syphilis, gonorrhoea, and AIDS are some sexually transmitted diseases.

1. AIDS

AIDS: Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome

It is a pandemic disease. The word "immuno deficiency" signifies that the immune system becomes very weak. It is a disease of cell-mediated immune system of the body.

Lymphocytes are the main cells of the immune system i.e. T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. "Helper T" lymphocytes play a great role in regulating the immune system. Damages to or destruction of "Helper" lymphocytes leads to the development of a cellular immune deficiency which makes the patient susceptible to wide variety of infections.

Mode of transmission

  1. Sexual contact with the affected person. In India, the most common route of HIV transmission is through unprotected heterosexual sex.
  2. Using the same syringe that was used for affected person.
  3. Blood transfusion which contains human immuno deficiency virus.
  4. Organ transplantation of the affected person.
  5. Artificial insemination.
  6. From mother to new born baby during the process of giving birth.

Incubation period: The average period is 28 months though it may range between 15 to 57 months

Symptoms

  1. A type of lung disease develops (tuberculosis).
  2. A skin cancer may be observed.
  3. Nerves are affected.
  4. Brain is badly damaged with the loss of memory, ability to speak and to think.
  5. The number of platelets (thrombocytes) becomes less which may cause haemorrhage.
  6. In severe cases the patient shows swollen lymph nodes, fever and loss of weight.

A full blown (disease at its peak ) AIDS patient, may die within three years.

Prevention and cure

No medicine or vaccine is known to be available against HIV infection. Therefore, care has to be taken through following measures:

  1. There should not be any sexual contact with the person who has HIV infection or STI. Since STI causes some damage to the genital area and mucous layer, and thus facilitates the entry of HIV into the body.
  2. Use disposable syringe and needle.
  3. The blood to be transfused to the needy person, should be free from HIV germ.
  4. Prostitution and homosexuality should be avoided.
  5. Condom should always be used during intercourse.

Control

AIDS can be detected by ELISA test. There are three points which may be important to control STD.

  1. Partner notification: Identification of potential infected contact, examination and treatment.
  2. Education of STD: This should be a part of general education.
  3. Screening for STD: Serological screening of groups, such as, blood donors, women before giving birth.

Facts about HIV Transmission

  • HIV is a weak virus and hard to get infected with. It cannot be transmitted through air or water outside the human body.
  • A person cannot get AIDS by hugging or sneezing of an infected person, insect bites (including mosquito), sharing the same comb, plates, glass, handkerchiefs, knives or cutlery.
  • A person cannot get AIDS by using public toilets, swimming pools, showers and telephones.
  • HIV cannot be transmitted by being near to someone, touching someone or working with someone who is suffering from AIDS.

2. Syphilis

Causative organism: Treponema pallidum (a long corkscrew bacteria)

Mode of spread: Sexual contact with the infected person

Incubation period: Symptoms of the disease occur in about 10-90 days after contraction, but generally noticed in 3-4 weeks after getting infected with the bacteria.

Symptoms

  1. Fever, and sores on the skin, in the throat and urino-genital areas especially vagina or penis, anus, rectum and mouth. Sores are firm, round and often painless.
  2. Rashes on hands, feet and palms.
  3. White patches in the mouth.
  4. Acne-like warts in the groin area.
  5. Hair fall in patches from infected areas.
  6. The last three symptoms can be very serious. They often become internal and affect organs like brain, nerves, liver, eyes, blood vessels, bones and joints, which show up after about 10 years of getting the infection. It can lead to paralysis, blindness, dementia and sterility.

Prevention and cure

  1. Having sexual intimacy with only one person.
  2. Avoiding prostitution and homosexuality.
  3. Practicing abstinence, and use condoms.
  4. Taking appropriate medical treatment, and maintaining personal hygiene.

3. Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease that often involves urethra, vagina or penis, cervix, anus, and throat, as its target sites.

Causative organism: A gonococcus bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It grows and multiplies quickly in warm moist areas of the body, such as the cervix, rectum and mouth.

Modes of spread: Having multiple sex partners increases the risk of contracting it. Any kind of unprotected sex is always a risk. Any kind of contact of sores with an infected person is also risky.

Incubation period: About 2-5 days after getting infection

Symptoms

  1. Inflammation of mucous membrane in the urinogenital tract.
  2. Burning sensation while passing out urine and urethral discharge.
  3. Rectal discomfort.
  4. Pain in the joints.
  5. Rashes on palms, Mild sore throat.
  6. In females, it may cause sterility

Prevention and cure

  1. Having sexual contact with only one person.
  2. Avoiding prostitution and homosexuality.
  3. Taking antibiotics, such as penicillin injection or appropriate medicines at the appropriate time as per Doctor’s advice.

In males, gonorrhoea primarily affects the urethra, anus, throat, joints and eyes. Most victims of this disease are teenagers and young adults. One of the advanced complications of gonorrhoea is gonococcal septicemia (blood poisoning).