Sexually Transmitted Diseases

.. V, most people experience general flu like symptoms like fever, headache, skin rash, tender lymph nodes, and malaise. These symptoms last for about one to two weeks. During this time HIV reproduces to very high concentrations, it circulates through the blood, and creates infections all throughout the body, especially in the lymph nodes. The infected person’s CD4 T-cell count falls briefly but then returns close to normal and the person’s immune system responds to the infection and limits the spread of HIV.

The next phase can last for up to ten years. The person stays healthy and his or her CD4 T cell level is between low and normal, which is 500 to 700 cells per mm3. HIV continues to spread and reproduce causing more destruction to the immune system. Eventually the immune system declines and the person’s T cell level drops dramatically from about 500 to 200 cells per mm3. Infections then spread but they are not yet life threatening. Within the next couple of months or years the immune system is destroyed and serious illnesses set in.

The infected person may have CD4 T-cell levels below 200 per mm3. Next comes a stage of ongoing weight loss and fatigue. The immune system fails and the T-cell count is below 50 per mm3, and death occurs within one to two years. HIV is most commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected person. The virus is present in the sexual secretions of men and women.

HIV goes into the bloodstream of the uninfected person by getting into small abrasions or by sexual intercourse. Sharing needles or syringes that contain the blood of an infected individual also spreads HIV. Transmission through blood transfusions is now very rare and it occurs in less than one person in every 100,000. HIV can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby, either before or during childbirth or through breast-feeding. Only about 30 percent of babies born to HIV-infected mothers actually become infected.

The three anti-HIV drugs currently licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are all RT inhibitors: AZT, ddl, and ddC. These drugs work as DNA-chain terminators. Because the drug appears to be a normal nucleotide base (the building block for DNA), the RT enzyme mistakenly inserts the drug into the growing viral DNA chain. Once the drug is inserted, no additional DNA bases can be added (Encarta). These drugs are not a cure for the HIV infection, scientists originally wanted them to slow the progression of AIDS, and they have extended the life of the infected individual by about six months.

Syphilis is an infection that can be life threatening if it is not treated. It is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. This bacterium is found in sores and rashes that occur anywhere on the skin or inside the mouth or genitals. Syphilis is spread by sexual contact and from mother to baby during pregnancy. Without treatment the infection can lead to heart disease, nerve disorders, brain damage, mental disorders, blindness, and death.

There are six symptoms that an infected person with syphilis may have. There can be one or many sores, usually painless, on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Rashes anywhere on the body are another symptom. The rashes can be flat, scaly, round, or crater like. One may also develop headaches, sore throats, swollen glands, and hair will fall out in big patches.

There are four stages of syphilis. First, there is a development of a red, painless sore. Within one to six weeks it will go away on its own. Second, development of the rash and flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can be mild and come and go for over two years.

Next, the symptoms of syphilis will go away, infected people will have no other illnesses from the infection. Stage four is late stage syphilis. The infection begins to damage the heart, brain nerves, bones and other parts of the body. Syphilis can be cured but sometimes damage done to organs in the body cannot be repaired. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, mainly with penicillin. Other antibiotics can be prescribed if one is allergic to penicillin.

This antibiotic kills the bacteria causing the infection. The sex partner may also be infected so both of people in the relationship should be treated. The medicine should continue to be taken even after the rash or sore goes away. Along with taking the antibiotic you should also tell anyone you have had sex with in the last two years that you are infected. Do not have sex again until your doctor gives an okay.

You should get rechecked to make sure you are cured and also get checked for HIV. Gonorrhea is a disease caused by a bacterium called Neiserria gonorrhoeae. The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are found in the vagina, penis, throat, rectum, and in the semen or vaginal fluids. Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact and from mother to baby during delivery. It is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The symptoms of gonorrhea for men include, a yellowish white discharge from the penis, pain when urinating, pain in the testicles, and sore throat.

Women usually do not have symptoms. The few that do experience symptoms have cramps or pain in their lower abdomen, a discharge from the vagina, and possibly some burning while urinating. Symptoms can be noticed as early as two to seven days after having sex with an infected person, sometimes it can take as long as thirty days for symptoms to develop. The disease is diagnosed through tests done on penile or vaginal discharges to see if the bacterium is present. Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact and from mother to baby during childbirth.

Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. All strains of gonorrhea are curable, but this disease is becoming more and more resistant to many standard medications. Penicillin is one of the drugs that the bacterium is now resistant to. Presently the antibiotics ceftriaxone, cefixime, ciproloxacin, or ofloxacin are used. Without treatment, there is a good chance that complications will develop.

Women could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a painful condition that occurs when the infection spreads throughout the reproductive organs. PID can make women unable to have children or cause them to be at risk for ectopic pregnancy (Virginia Department of Health). Men experience a swelling of the testicles and penis. Both men and women may develop arthritis, skin problems and other infections that will spread throughout the body. All sexually active women under the age of 20, and those who have inflammation of the cervix should be tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Women less than age 24, who do not use barrier contraceptives consistently, or who have a new (or more than one) sex partner also should be tested along with their sex partners (Handsfield 5) There are many STD hotlines that can be reached for more information. The National STD Hotline’s number is 800-227-8922. You can also call Health on Demand at (607) 737-4499.

If you have been raped and you fear you might have contracted a STD you can call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Hotline (RAINN) at 800-656-4673. All hospitals and doctor’s offices also carry information on STD’s. Always consult your physician if you think you could be in danger of having a STD. By writing this paper I realized that I was pretty nave about how big of a problem STD’s are. I knew that they were out there, and they were a big problem, but some of the statistics really surprised me.

Like 50 percent of all men and women have genital warts. After learning so much about these diseases and what they can do to you, I really think we should have a unit in class dealing with STD’s. I also think that the school should offer a STD course, and offer free condoms to students like some other schools have started to do. The usefulness of knowing all that I do about this topic can really help me out in the future. I will able to recognize whether something looks bad, and I also learned the best methods of protection. All in all, I am really happy that I chose to do this paper.