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STIs and Condom Awareness Week

“Only promiscuous people get STIs. If your partner has a STI, you’ll see it. You can avoid STI by doing everything but penetrative sex. Once you have had a STI, there’s no chance of getting it again. If you get checked and you’re STI free, your partner does not need to get checked as well.”

These are just some of the myths surrounding the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI). In an effort to help create awareness on STIs, the Department of Health has established STI/Condom Week, 10-16 February.

Here are some of the facts:. STIs are infections that are spread through any type of unprotected intercourse. STIs can also be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy.. Shame is a big part of STIs, the reason most people don’t seek treatment in a timely manner. Ignoring or leaving STIs until they get worse can have a detrimental effect on your health.. Many STIs don’t have immediate visual symptoms. This is why it is important to get a regular health test (every six months) to check for any STIs.

According to the Department of Health, more than 1 million people were treated for new STIs in 2014 within the public sector. Gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HPV and HIV are some of the most common STIs in South Africa.

Common STI suspects . Gonorrhoea symptoms include burning during urination and a discharge. If not treated, it can lead to swelling of private parts and infertility.. Chlamydia manifests as lower abdominal pain and painful intercourse. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to ectopic pregnancy for women, infertility and death.. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common STI that is transmitted during intercourse. According to the Western Cape Government, almost 7 in every 10 people will have HPV at some point in their lives. It is especially harmful to women and girls, for it can lead to cervical cancer. The good news is that there is a vaccination against HPV that has been rolled out by the provincial government for girls in Grade 5 over the age of 9 years.. South Africa has the highest HIV rate per capita in the world. According to Stats SA, the total number of people living with HIV in 2018 was estimated at approximately 7,52 million. HIV infects white blood cells in the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight infections.

People with any STI has a greater risk of contracting HIV.

Prevention and protection

Having one monogamous partner can reduce changes of getting a STI. Consistent and correct use of condoms is a dual-protection method, not only protecting against STIs but also ensuring unwanted pregnancy.

Early and regular STI screening is also a must. In cases where patients have a STI it important to share the information with your partner(s) to stop the spread of STIs.

Visit your clinic for a screening

Consultations are private and confidential. A full health and sexual history will be taken and an examination will be conducted. A HIV test will be offered. If need be, treatment for any and all STIs will be provided.

A partner notification slip will also be offered, which is how a patient’s sexual partner(s) are identified. In this process partners must be advised about the STI they have and the treatment they should follow.

Source: Department of Health

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