Be aware of Sexually Transmitted Infections, even during Carnival

The Section General Public Health (GPH) from the Collective Preventive Service’s (CPS) calendar of health observances, focuses on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) during the month of April, and wishes to remind the community about preventing STIs, and making a healthy choice.

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The GPH’s campaign objectives is to bring about awareness as it relates to STIs; to encourage individuals to be more responsible for their own health and their partner’s health; and to provide the public with general information.

STIs are infections that are spread primarily through person-to-person sexual contact. STIs are infections that are likely to be transmitted while having unprotected sex. Transmitted means passed on from one place to another, in this case it means passed on from one person to another.

There are more than 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites.

The most common conditions they cause are cancer, gonorrhoea, chlamydial infection, syphilis, trichomoniasis, chancroid, genital herpes, genital warts, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and hepatitis B infection.

Under the local surveillance system all physicians are expected to report all diagnosed STIs syndromes to the GPH to register, monitor and identify trends of the particular conditions.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the name of a condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria.
It is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning. It is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. The cause of BV is not fully understood. BV is associated with an imbalance in the bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina.
The vagina normally contains mostly "good" bacteria, and fewer "harmful" bacteria. BV develops when there is an increase in harmful bacteria. Any woman can get BV. However, some activities or behaviors can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk including:
• Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners,
• Douching
Women with BV may have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse. Discharge, if present, is usually white or gray; it can be thin. Women with BV may also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. However, most women with BV report no signs or symptoms at all.
In most cases, BV causes no complications. But there are some serious risks from BV including:
• Having BV can increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the HIV virus.
• Having BV increases the chances that an HIV-infected woman can pass HIV to her sex partner.
• Having BV while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, such as preterm delivery.
• BV can increase a woman’s susceptibility to other STIs, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), chlamydia and gonorrhea.

If you think you have been exposed to an STI or you have symptoms of BV, you should consult your general practitioner and get tested if you have ever had sex (vaginal, anal or oral) without using a condom.

Some of the infections are treatable. Treatable entails that medication is available to manage the symptoms, but the infection stays in your body, and you can continue passing the infection/disease on to another person. Some treatable disorders/diseases are cervical cancers in the early stage, genital warts, herpes, hepatitis B/C and HIV.

There are several curable STIs once treated in time with medication, such as gonorrhea (claps), Chlamydia, pubic lice (crabs) and syphilis.
There are two ways to prevent STIs, abstain from having sex, and the correct and frequent use of condoms during any sexual act.

Have a safe carnival and protect yourself and your partner. Abstain or use your condom correctly every time! Remember it’s okay to wait, have sex when you are ready.

For (awareness) basic STI information you can also contact your local Family Physician, AIDS Foundation, Red Cross Foundation, and/or the GPH.