SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) are caused by germs that are passed on from one person to another during sex. These infections are very common, with over 4 million people receiving treatment for STI’s in South Africa every year.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) destroys a person’s immune system, making it impossible for the body to fight off disease or illnesses. AIDS is the last phase of a deadly disease caused by HIV.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOU STATUS!
The symptoms of STI’s are easy to identify:
- Pus or smelly fluids coming out of the penis/vagina.
- Blisters, sores or warts on private parts.
- Pain or burning when urinating.
- Needing to urinate more often than normal.
- Pain during sex.
- Unusual swelling near the penis/vagina.
- Itching on or near your genitals.
How can STI’s be prevented?
- Stick to only one sexual partner.
- Only have protected sex by using a condom.
- Don’t have sex while you are being treated for a sexually transmitted infection.
STI’s are curable if you:
- Go to a clinic as soon as you have any signs or symptoms of an STI.
- Finish all the pills given to you by the clinic.
- Use a condom during sex – otherwise you can get the STI again or pass it on to someone else.
- Go back to the clinic when you have finished all your pills to check that the STI is gone.
- Make sure your sexual partner is also treated, otherwise you may become re-infected!
What happens if STI’s are left untreated?
- Both men and women can die from untreated STI’s.
- Men who don’t treat STI’s get painful, inflamed testicles and might not be able to produce children.
- Women develop serious diseases of the womb and may not be able to have children.
- Pregnant women with STI’s may suffer a miscarriage or the baby could be stillborn.
- Babies born from moms with untreated STI’s often suffer from pneumonia or serious eye infections.
HIV is also a Sexually Transmitted Infection
STI’s make it easier for HIV to be transmitted to others. STI’s can damage the skin of the genital area, causing sores that act as an open door, making it easier for HIV to move from one person to another.
HIV is spread from one person to another by:
- Having unprotected sex with an infected person.
- Through contact with infected blood.
- Sharing injection needles and syringes.
- From an infected mother to her unborn/newborn baby.
- You cannot be infected with HIV by hugging or touching a person with HIV!
How can you tell if someone is HOV Positive? There are no obvious signs to warn you – you cannot tell if a person is HIV Positive just by looking at them! It takes many years for HIV infection to show, and an infected person usually starts showing systems of other diseases like TB or Pneumonia because of HIV infection.
Early symptoms of HIV Infection and AIDS:
- You are losing weight and have no appetite.
- You may have a fever and sweat a lot, especially at night.
- The glands in your groin, neck and armpits are swollen.
- You feel tired most of the time and you often have an upset stomach.
- You may have repeated chest infections.
As the immune system gets weaker because of the infection, other symptoms may appear:
- Sores on the skin or in the mouth
- Increased outbreaks of cold sores/fever blisters
- Shortness of breath, dry cough
- Numbness or pain in hands and feet
PREVENTION IS THE ONLY CURE!
- Say NO to sex with casual partners – it’s not worth the risk.
- Say NO to sex with anyone who has symptoms of STI’s.
- Say NO to sex without a condom – it is the ONLY way to avoid infection!
- If you have a new boy or girlfriend, take time before having sex to talk about HIV and other STI’s.
- Make sure you and your partner are both infection free before having sex without a condom.
- Be faithful to your partner.