Venereal Diseases (VD)
Venereal Diseases (also known as sexually transmitted diseases/infections) are often acquired by unprotected sexual encounter (Safe Sex Learn More) with an infected partner. The pathogen (usually bacterial or viral) are transmitted by semen, blood, vaginal or other bodily secretions. Some of these infections are also transmitted by non-sexual means such as:
- Vertical contact (i.e. non-sexual transmission of pathogens from mother to baby during pregnancy or while passage through infected birth-canal
- Exchange of infected needles (during intravenous drug abuse or accidental needle-prick injuries that are common in hospital settings)
- Transfusion of infected blood products
Many Venereal Diseases are asymptomatic (Asymptomatic Wiki Page) (at least in the early course of illness) and thus remains concealed for a long period of time.
Primary Symptoms of Venereal Diseases (VD)
The appearance, severity and characteristics of individual Venereal Diseases may vary depending upon the infecting pathogen. However, for most part, following sign and symptoms are usually common to most sexually transmitted infections (HIV Prevention Learn More):
- Vaginal bleeding (post-coital bleeding, inter-menstrual bleeding etc.)
- Vaginal discharge
- Discharge from penis
- Burning and painful urination
- Bumps or sores (Penile Bumps | What Are Penile Bumps?) in the rectal or on the genitals
- Bodily rash that may be localized ( feet and hands) or may be generalized involving the entire body
- Swollen, sore lymph nodes especially in groin area but generalized involvement of lymph nodes all over the body (in advanced cases)
- Non-specific symptoms like runny nose, fever, fatigue etc.
Based on the causative organism, the symptoms may appear within a few weeks and may last for some days up to a few years. In some cases, symptoms may resolve spontaneously within a few weeks, yet in most cases antibiotic therapy is needed to address the illness.
Consulting a Doctor About A Venereal Disease (VD)
Make an appointment for screening tests and Venereal disease counseling if:
- You are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above
- If you recently had an unprotected sexual encounter with a stranger/ infected partner
Causative Agents That are Implicated in Venereal Diseases
According to the latest reports of Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year more than 20 million new cases are reported in United States. Additionally,
- At any given time, there are more than 110 million people who are living with one or more sexually transmitted infection in United States.
- The annual healthcare cost of STD management and prevention exceeds $16 billion.
Following are some most frequently encountered pathogens that may lead to acute/ chronic sexually transmitted disease.
Viruses | Venereal Diseases (VD)
- HIV: More than 41,400 new cases of HIV (HIV | AIDS Statistics: Local | Global) are reported each year. At any given time, 908,000 are living with HIV infection (HIV Symptoms and Stages) and are potentially transmitting to other as well via unprotected sexual intercourse and other means listed above (1).
- Genital Herpes: More than 24,100,000 are currently infected with genital herpes (Genital Herpes… The “Silent Bug”) and each year 776,000 new cases are reported
- Human Papillomavirus: It is indeed one of the most prevalent Venereal diseases throughout the world. In United States, More than 79,100,000 are currently infected with genital herpes and each year 14,100,000 new cases are reported
Parasites | Venereal Diseases (VD)
- Trichomoniasis: In United States, More than 3,710,000 are currently infected with genital herpes and each year 1,090,000 new cases are reported
Bacteria | Venereal Diseases (VD)
- Chlamydia: In United States, More than 1,570,000 are currently infected with genital herpes and each year 2,860,000 new cases are reported
- Syphilis: In United States, More than 117,000 are currently infected with genital herpes and each year 55,400 new cases are reported
- Gonorrhoea: In United States, More than 270,000 are currently infected with genital herpes and each year 820,000 new cases are reported
You may also get infected without any sexual activity, by Giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium (Cryptosporidium Wiki Page), shigella and hepatitis A, B and C virus (Oral Sex STDs).
Risk Factors of Venereal Diseases
The risk factors include:
Having unprotected sex: Penetration in anus or vagina by an infected partner (without physical barriers like condom or vaginal diaphragm) can result in transmission of infected agents. Risk may also be increased by inconsistent or improper condom usage.
- Sexual contact with multiple partners: The greater the number of sex partners, the greater the chance of getting infected.
- STIs history: With an active infection with Chlamydia (Chlamydia Symptoms in Women and Men), gonorrhea (Resistant Gonorrhea Treatment), syphilis (STD: Syphilis Treatment and Prevention) or herpes the risk of contracting HIV infection increases multiple folds. You may also get re-infected by the partner with same infection if he/she isn’t treated as well.
- Alcohol abuse and use of recreational drugs: Abuse of substance can cloud your judgement leading to risky behaviors.
- Injecting drugs: Hepatitis B, C and HIV (HIV Transmission | How is HIV Transmitted?) may result from the use of shared needles.
- Adolescent female: The immature cervix in adolescent females comprises of cells that change constantly, making the cervix more prone to STI causative organisms.
According to a research, STIs dwell more commonly in men who have sex with other men, young people and minority communities (2).
Managing Venereal Diseases
STDs caused by bacteria are fairly easier to treat (with the help of antibiotics) as compared to most viral venereal diseases. Based on infection type, the treatment may be:
- Antibiotics: STIs caused by parasites and bacteria can be cured usually by just one antibiotic course such as trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea. Since Chlamydia and gonorrhoea often occur together so treating one will treat the other. The antibiotic course is crucial to follow. Consult your doctor for a simpler, shorter regimen if you can’t stick to prescribed medicines. Also avoid sex (Condom Mistakes You Might Be Making During Sex) until you are completely healed.
- Antiviral drugs: With a daily prescribed antiviral drug suppressive therapy, the herpes recurrence may be less but you can infect the partner any time with herpes. These drugs may keep a check for many years on HIV infections. So it’s better to start the treatment as soon as possible.
Partner Notification & Preventive Treatments For Venereal Diseases (VD)
If you have STI then your partners with whom you have or had sexual activity with over past 3 months-1 year, need to be informed so they can get tested and screened. Official, confidential notifications to the partner limit the STIs spreading effectively, especially syphilis and HIV.
Brody, S., & Weiss, P. (2011). Heterosexual anal intercourse: Increasing prevalence, and association with sexual dysfunction, bisexual behavior, and venereal disease history. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 37(4), 298-306.
Rompalo, A. (2011). Preventing sexually transmitted infections: back to basics. The Journal of clinical investigation, 121(12), 4580-4583.