How Do You Get An STD?
STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These are diseases that are primarily transferred via sexual intercourse, but it is not the only route of transmission. There are various illnesses that also transmit through skin to skin contact like in the cases of Herpes simplex virus the causative organism of Genital warts. Sometimes the disease may transfer from infected mother to newborn child during gestational period. This type of transmission is known as Vertical Transmission. The other routes are contaminated hand to genital contact, blood transfusion, IV drug usage and sharing objects (towels, razors, clothes, tattoo machines, etc.).
Sexual Intercourse and STDs
There is direct association between sexual intercourse and STDs. Maximum number of patients acquires STD through this route. The disease is transmitted from an infected individual to a non-infected individual by varied ways, maybe through the semen, vaginal fluids, saliva and other bodily fluids. Contraindicating the popular myth that STDs are only transferred by the vaginal intercourse, these diseases may also pass on along by the oral and anal intercourse and even sometimes by merely kissing the infected individual on the lips. Using a condom mostly prevents the transmission of the disease.
Alternative Routes of Transmission of STDs
Skin to Skin Contact – As mentioned above diseases like Warts spread through this. This occurs if the infected lesions come in contact of the non-infected individual or another theory is as skin cells, shed regularly the causative organism along with them may also get transferred when contacted.
Vertical Transmission – Seen in cases of HIV, Syphilis, Gonococcal Infections and many other sexually transmitted diseases. The causative organism is transferred to the fetus bypassing placenta and into the fetal blood circulation. The presence of specific antibodies in the newborn child’s blood normally confirms the diagnosis.
IV Drug Abusers – They are at a greater risk with the disease agent transferred through the infected needles.
Sharing Objects – These include sharing towels, toothbrushes, razors and other products of the diseased personnel that come in contact with the mucous membrane or skin of the uninfected person.
Blood Transfusion – One of the common ways of transmission of STDs in India. Although, this is regressing now by rigorous checking of blood products before transfusion for any pathological agents.
Disease Agents of STDs
STDs are caused by bacterial agents, viruses, protozoal agents, fungal and some ectoparasites. Few examples are Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Bacteria), Treponema pallidum (bacteria), HIV (Virus), HPV (Virus), Trichomonas (Protozoa), Candida (Fungal) and Sarcoptes scabiei (Ectoparasite).
Who Are At The Risk To Catch an STD?
After clearing the air around the way one can get infected by a sexually transmitted disease. It is unequivocally important to know the risk factors that increase the susceptibility of an individual to get exposed to the disease. STDs are not limited to one gender it can occur in both males and females and that too of any age and background and the economic condition of the individual has little effect on the person getting the disease.
Although these factors due tend to increase the risk:-
Multiple Sexual Partners – People who conduct intimate relationships with many people are at an increased risk. They tend to spread the disease further.
Prostitution – A major factor in spreading the disease. The prostitute acts as a reservoir of infections.
Having Unprotected Sex – Individuals not protected by the ‘barrier’ of Condom.
Onset Of Sexual Activity At An Early Age – Highest incidence seen between 20 to 24 years of age.
Spouses – Spouses of Infected Persons
Gays: Men having Sexual Intercourse with other Men.
IV Drug Abusers – As they usually share the needles which are rarely sterile. Drug abusers are at a high risk.
Diseased Individuals Who Require Multiple Blood Transfusions: As in patients of Thalassemia and Hemophilia.
In conclusion, STDs are a major set of diseases that affect the community. They are mostly Sexually Transmitted, but that is not the only route of transmission. It can be transmitted across various other ways. STDs are preventable and various prevention methods should be properly followed to save one from being infected.
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