Real Power – Health
Girl Talk with Dr. Lorie
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) have become a major global health care issue. They numbers began to increase in the 1970s has not stopped climbing. Men and women all over the world are affected with, and even die from STDs. This column will briefly review and explain the pathology of various diseases. We owe it to ourselves as women to know how to protect ourselves and our daughters, sisters and friends. According to the CDC, in 2015, 1 out of every 4 teenage girls (13-19) was infected with or had been exposed to an STD. This number continues to climb. There are approximately 1.2 million cases of HIV in the US alone. Additionally there were over 38,000 new cases of HIV in 2015…and more than half of those cases were in the southern United States. Atlanta has become the most infected city in the country in regard to HIV status. The STD epidemic has reached such a large proportion of the population that in 2008, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology changed its previous recommendation regarding screening for HIV. The new recommendation is that all women aged 15-65, tested for HIV, whereas in the past, testing was reserved for pregnant women and for those women who were considered to be “high-risk”. It is now known that all women who are or who have ever been sexually active may have been exposed to some sort of STD. . Of the new cases of HIV infection, 25 % of the cases are diagnosed in heterosexual women, most of them being women of color. Also, with promiscuity and infidelity in marriage on the rise, our risks get higher and higher. The more sexual partners you have had, the higher your risk of getting an STD. That being said, STDs can only be obtained from person to person contact. They can be transmitted orally (by mouth), with penetration of vagina or anus, or even skin to skin. Some STDs have relatively few effects, some are deadly and others, become lifetime issues to the ones who have them. When discussing STDs, you are basically talking about two types of infections:
Bacteria are living organisms that grow on living things, surfaces and other living things. Bacteria are killed by antibiotics. They do not remain in the body for extended periods of time, but can damage normal tissues by causing inflammation. Sexually transmitted bacterial infections include: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Trichomonas
Viruses are small protein packed organisms that enter into the body and begin to replicate themselves once they are in contact with the living tissue. Unlike bacteria, viruses are not killed by antibiotics. They can live in the body for long periods of time in an inactive or dormant state. However, just because they are dormant, does not mean that they are not present or that the person who has them is not contagious; it just means that he or she is not showing any outward signs of the infection at the time. To date there is no known “cure” for any viral illnesses, however, the diseases can be maintained and managed to allow for a good quality of life. Sexually transmitted viruses include: Herpes, HIV, Hepatitis and HPV (genital warts). The only way to completely prevent exposure to any STDs is abstinence…but since that is not realistic for most women; you must take steps to protect yourself.
KNOW YOUR STATUS
Make sure that you get tested annually for STDs if you are sexually active; especially if not in a committed, monogamous relationship. Don’t just assume that your doctor is going to do it. You have to ask! When you ask, make sure you ask for everything, including herpes. This will require you to have your blood drawn.
KNOW YOUR PARTNER’S STATUS
Ask to see the proof of your partners status. Ask for and require him to show you the information that you need. And again, have him ask to be tested for EVERYTHING! Unfortunately this applies to some married couples too. Limit your number of Sexual Partners.
Use a Condom
You probably thought this would have been the first thing I said, but it’s the last. We have been talking about condom use for years and the numbers keep getting worse. If you are having sex, (especially if you are not married) you should use a condom. If he cares about you, he will, and if you care about yourself, you will too. Don’t depend on him to have them. I call it B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Condom). Your life is worth it!
Just For You Women’s Healthcare
3976 Highway 42 South
Locust Grove, Georgia 30248