Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases On The Rise?

Once known as the venereal disease (after Venus the goddess of love) sexually transmitted diseases have been around for a long time. They are so called because they are spread through sexual intercourse.  The only guaranteed way to avoid contracting such a disease is abstinence. Diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are bacterial infections which are treated with antibiotics.  Viruses such as HIV and herpes cannot be cured so are controlled with antivirals.  

According to historians, the first sexually transmitted diseases were brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus.  Beethoven, Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln all caught syphilis from their lustful encounters.  Sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate between social class or if you are a Hollywood superstar.

Syphilis And Gonorrhea

In July 2016 the Guardian reported that there had been a 76% rise in Syphilis and 53% in gonorrhoea since 2012.  Public Health England has suggested that people who have new or casual partners have regular testing.  There is also a move to encourage the use of condoms more.  Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, if left untreated it can lead to; strokes, blindness, paralysis and death.  

Concern has been raised about the closing down of sexual health clinics and that the only time that numbers drop is due to reduced testing.  The Independent reported the same findings and described the results as a ‘sexual health crisis’. Reports from the Centers Of Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) in America suggest that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing on a global scale.

Chlamydia And Genital Herpes

Sexually transmitted diseases are mainly associated with young nubile adults.  However, studies have found that incidents of chlamydia have increased in adults between the ages of 50 - 70.  This is likely to be caused by people living longer and experiencing new relationships later in life.

Dr David Lee who wrote the chapter, Sexual Health, in Dame Sally Davies report on Baby Boomers suggests that the results are a throwback to the Swinging Sixties.  Chlamydia still remains a young person’s disease. In 2016, ‘Over 1.4 million chlamydia tests were carried out and over 128,000 chlamydia diagnoses were made among young people aged 15 to 24 years’. (Source: PHE).  Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics.

In 2015 it was reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 10% of the British population had genital herpes.  Herpes is a viral infection which remains dormant in the body until it flares up and symptoms become obvious.

Treatments For Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Azithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat both chlamydia and gonorrhoea.  It is particularly effective because it acts directly on the proteins that cause the infection.  Once the bacteria and proteins are weakened the chlamydia infection naturally goes away.  The antibiotic stays in the system for a long period of time preventing chlamydia from taking hold again.  

Genital Herpes is a viral infection and is treated with Aciclovir.  This antiviral medication can be used to treat both genital herpes and cold sores. It is particularly effective if taken as soon as the tingling occurs that indicates that an outbreak is imminent.  The herpes virus is particularly contagious and is caught by coming into contact with outbreaks.  It is very important that all sexual contact is stopped during this time.

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