Sexually Transmitted Infections are those infections commonly spread by sexual activity especially vaginal intercourse ,anal intercourse and oral sex.


Infections considered STIs

  • Chlamydial infection
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Chancroid
  • Hepatitis (Hepatitis B, C and D)
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Genital Herpetic Infection

Key Facts

  • More than 1 million STIs are acquired each day worldwide
  • By yearly estimation million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs; Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis
  • More than 500 million are estimated to have genital infection with Herpes




simplex virus (HSV)

  • More than 290 million women have HPV infection.
  • Majority of individuals with STIs have mild symtoms or no complaint at all.
  • STIs affect both men and women.
  • STIs like HSV type 2 and syphilis can increase the risk of HIV acquisition
  • 988,000 pregnant were infected with syphilis un 2016, resulting in 200,00 still births and newborn deaths.
  • Drug resistance is a major problem in STIs.

Pathogens involved

  • Bacteria, viruses and protozoa all cause STIs
  • Syphilis, chlamydial infection, gonorrhea and chancroid are bacterial infection and are potentially curable
  • Hepatitis, herpetic infection, HIV,and HPV are viral infections and usually follow a chronic course.
  • Trichomoniasis is a protozoal infestation,




Prevention of STIs : General measures

  • Counselling and behavioural approaches achieved via

- Comprehensive sex education

- HIV pre- and post-test counseling

- Safer sex/ risk reduction methods, and condom promotion

- Interventions targeted at some high risk population such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and injection drug users.

  • Barriers methods such as the use of condoms have been proven to reduce the risks of STIs when used consistently and and correctly.
  • Contact tracing: All cases of STIs should be reported to the infectious diseases department of the hospital and all contacts of the index patients should be sought for and treated as well.

However, the most effective way of preventing STIs is by not having sex.




Let`s look at the most common STIs one after the other



  • Caused by a bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea
  • Symptoms includes burning sensation on urination,foul smelling vaginal discharge(female),purulent discharges from the penis(male),pain in the pelvis, testis and penis
  • Complications include pelvic inflammatory diseases, infertility,epididymoorchitis, septic arthritis, endocarditis, and ophthalmia neonatarum
  • Diagnostic methods include microscopy and culture of urine and/or swabs
  • Treated using antibiotics



  • Caused by a protozoa Trichomoniasis vaginalis
  • Symptoms include genital itching,burning sensation on urination, yellowish green, frothy and foul smelling vaginal discharge. Men might be asymptomatic




Human Papilloma virus ( HPV ) is the cause of Cervical cancer in females.It's gotten through sexual intercourse. It can also cause cancer of the head and neck , penis,and anus Sexually exposed females above 40 years should be screened every year using pap smear test. Young unexposed females can be prevented through vaccination.


  • Hepatitis B and C causes chronic hepatitis and subsequently leads to liver cancer. It is gotten via sexual contact, transfusion of unscreened blood samples, sharing of sharps, injections of medications among drug users. Hepatitis B is considered more infectious than HIV..... that is it is more likely to contract Hepatitis B after unprotected sexual contact than HIV . Both hepatitis B and C should be treated urgently. Hepatitis B can be prevented using a vaccine. No vaccine exists for Hepatitis C



Key Facts

  • · Syphilis is an caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum,It is an infectious disease

  • It is transmissible by

- sexual contact

- from mother to her unborn baby

- blood transfusion products

- sharing of needles and sharps with infected individuals

- breaks in skin coming in contact with infectious lesions

  • Syphilis is most common during years of peak sexual activity
  • Period from contracting the infection to the manifestation of symptoms range from 3 weeks to 90 days
  • Syphilis has 4 stages ; primary, secondary, latent and tertiary syphilis. Progression through these stages occur when it is left untreated and thus has devastating outcome.




Stages in syphilis

- In primary syphilis, the main complaint is a small, sometimes unnoticeable sore or ulcer on the penis, vagina or around the anus. Swollen lymph nodes may be noticed as well. If untreated ugtthese symptoms go away and may progress into the next phase.

- In secondary syphilis the following symptoms might be noted: rashes on the palms of the hand , sole of the feet and trunk; genital warts; white patches in the mouth; patchy hair loss; swollen lymph nodes.

- In latent syphilis, there is usually no symptoms but the microorganism is multiplying in the body systems. Test for syphilis at this period will test positive.

- In tertiary syphilis, harmful damages would have been done to the heart, blood vessels, the brain and the spinal cord. It`s outcome is undesirable and should not be allowed to occur.

Syphilis in Pregnancy (Congenital syphilis)

Untreated syphilitic infection may harm the baby in the womb. It may lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, blindness, malformations, teeth and nose deformities.






To be continued...


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