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Sexually transmitted diseases

Infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact. Although virtually

any infection may be transmitted during intimate contact, the term sexually transmitted

disease is restricted to conditions that are largely dependent on sexual contact for their

transmission and propagation in a population. The term venereal disease is literally

synonymous with sexually transmitted disease but traditionally is associated with only

five long-recognized diseases . Sexually transmitted diseases occasionally are acquired

nonsexually, but in adults they are virtually never acquired by contact with contaminated

intermediaries such as towels, toilet seats, or bathing facilities. However, some sexually

transmitted infections are transmitted primarily by sexual contact in some settings and by

nonsexual means in others

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a term used to describe more than 20

different infections that are transmitted through exchange of semen, blood, and other

body fluids; or by direct contact with the affected body areas of people with STDs.

Sexually transmitted diseases are also called venereal diseases.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are viral and bacterial infections passed

from one person to another through sexual contact.

Adolescence is a time of opportunities and risk when many health behaviors are

established. Although many of these behaviors are health-promoting, some are health-

compromising, resulting in increasingly high rates of adolescent morbidity and mortality.

For example, initiation of sexual intercourse and experimentation with alcohol and drugs

are normative adolescent behaviors. However, these behaviors often result in negative
health outcomes such as the acquisition of STDs. As a consequence of STDs, many

adolescents experience serious health problems that often alter the course of their adult

lives, including infertility, difficult pregnancy, genital and cervical cancer, neonatal

transmission of infections, and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Some symptoms of STDs affect the genitals and reproductive organs:

• A woman who has an STD may bleed when she is not menstruating or has

abnormal vaginal discharge. Vaginal burning, itching, and odor are common, and

she may experience pain in her pelvic area while having sex.

• A discharge from the tip of the penis may be a sign that a man has an STD. Males

may also have painful or burning sensations when they urinate.

• There may be swelling of the lymph nodes near the groin area.

• Both men and women may develop skin rashes, sores, bumps, or blisters near the

mouth or genitals. Homosexual men frequently develop these symptoms in the

area around the anus.

Prevention

Control of sexually transmitted diseases is served in the UK by a network of specialist

clinics: departments of Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Genitourinary Medicine

clinics. The image of such clinics has changed considerably; they have become more

friendly, with far less associated stigma. Most people attend without medical referral,

and because the remit of these clinics has extended in recent decades, many use them

for check-ups, screening for HIV, and for gynaecological problems or contraceptive
advice. In developing countries, such specialist services do not usually exist, and

sexually transmitted diseases are normally managed in non-specialist services, usually

in rural primary health centres by non-medical staff.

Prevention of STDs involves primary and secondary approaches. Primary prevention

aims to educate individuals about the advantages of discriminate and safe sex

(prevention by the use of condoms), about the symptoms of the common sexually

transmitted diseases, and about how to seek care for them. It is also important to point

out that some conditions may cause no symptoms, so that regular check-ups are

advised for those who often change their partners.

Secondary prevention aims to encourage people to seek care without delay once the

symptoms of a disease are recognized, to stop sexual intercourse until medical advice

has been sought, and to adhere to the advice and treatment given. The final aspect of

control is the tracing of the sexual contacts of the infected patient, who may have

infection without being aware of it.