According to a recent study, sexually transmitted diseases are one of the most common ailments that spread quickly from person-to-person. Most of the STDs infecting a female have a high risk to be vertically transmitted to her offspring to cause congenital anomalies. As a clichéd adage says, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, preventive measures are the mainstay to avert STDs, but once infected the individual must be immediately treated.
The treatment for STDs can be broadly classified based on the causative organisms:
1. Fungal infections –
These usually present with itching and foul-smelling discharge. Treatment includes anti-fungal agents which can either be taken orally (tablets) or applied locally (creams/powder).
For Vaginal Candidiasis:
Candid B cream (Clotrimazole 1%),
2. Parasitic infection –
Trichomoniasis is among the most common sexually transmitted infections. Risk factors include multiple sexual partners and not using condoms during sex. Symptoms include foul-smelling vaginal discharge, genital itching and painful urination in women. Men are usually symptomless.
3. Bacterial infections –
Chlamydia and gonorrheal infections usually occur in the upper genital area, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease. Both the partners are to be treated. Preferred drugs are azithromycin and doxycycline.
Bacterial vaginosis is the common bacterial lower genital infection in females. These can be treated by antibiotics such as metronidazole.
Penicillin is the antibiotic most commonly used to treat Syphilis. It is important to do a skin test before administering it, as few patients may be allergic to it.
4. Viral Infections –
These are the most notorious organisms as they do not usually respond to a single drug. Hepatitis B and HIV-AIDS can also be transmitted through blood and blood products.
Hepatitis B is usually treated with antiviral agents such as Lamivudine, Adefovir. Vaccinations are available against Hep-B virus.
AIDS is a gamut of conditions caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus acts by lowering the infected individual’s immunity, predisposing to many opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, etc. There is no effective vaccine or complete cure to eradicate the virus. Hence, the treatment comprises of a standardised antiviral regimen introduced by NACO along with prophylactic antibiotics and vaccinations (against other viruses and bacteria).
Human Papilloma Virus is one of the carcinogenic viruses. High-risk HPV are major risk factors for cervical cancer in women of reproductive age group. Conservative treatment like cervical conization can be done for low-grade tumors. High-grade tumors to be treated by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
It is important to identify these diseases in early stages so as to eradicate the pathogenic organism completely. In all the cases, the partner must also be treated. Pregnant women should be taken special care of, so as to not cause any harm to both the mother and the foetus.
Delve deeper into our series on STD Awareness.