Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) constitute great medical, social, and economic problems in Nigeria. The most affected are urban dwellers, but the diseases are also rapidly trickling down to rural areas. The Nigerian government has made some efforts to solve the problem, but where there is constant unprotected sex, STDs will continue to thrive in Nigeria.
You may be sure of yourself, but you may not be 100 per cent sure that your partner doesn’t have other sexual partners outside. This is why it is important to take care of yourself. STDs are no fun, and can wreak serious havoc on your body.
What is STD?
STD is an acronym for Sexually Transmitted Disease. It is an infection transmitted through sexual contact caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The disease is spread from one person to another, usually during vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Another name for STD is STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). They are common, and some people don’t show symptoms until it’s too late. The good news is most STDs are very easy to treat with antibiotics as long as they are discovered on time.
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Common STDs in Nigeria
Here are the seven common STDs in Nigeria:
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in Nigeria. The disease comes with no signs or symptoms in the early stage, which makes it difficult to detect on time. However, symptoms begin to show two to three weeks after exposure. Common symptoms include pain, burning sensation while urinating, and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Most symptoms are mild, which makes them be overlooked easily.
In 1963, WHO declared Lagos to be the highest carrier of gonorrhea in the world. Decades later, the disease remains one of the most serious STDs affecting a carrier’s overall well-being. Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium known as Neisseria Gonorrhea. It is also a bacterial infection of the genital tract. In addition, it can grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. Symptoms usually start appearing within ten days after exposure. They include painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. However, some people are asymptomatic, making them very dangerous as they can unknowingly spread the disease.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact and will cause deadly problems if not treated on time. It usually starts with a painless sore on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Then the disease spreads from person to person via skin or mucous membrane contact with these sores. The syphilis bacteria known as Treponema Pallidum can remain inactive in the body for decades before becoming active again. The secondary symptom of syphilis is rash. Some people experience hair loss, muscle aches, a fever, a sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. The most severe symptoms can damage the brain, nerves, eyes, or heart.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that mostly affects the vagina for women and the urethra for men. The infection is called by microscopic parasites called Trichomonas vaginalis. Although trichomoniasis is mostly contracted through sexual intercourse, other sources of infections include spreading via bathing suits, towels, and washcloths shared by an infected individual. Symptoms include a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, genital itching, and painful urination in women. Men typically show no symptoms. Also, infected pregnant women are at risk of premature delivery.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that affects the skin, cervix, and genitals, as well as some other parts of the body. The virus is divided into HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 spreads through saliva or if there is a herpes-related sore around another person’s mouth. It can also be spread to the genital area during oral sex. HSV-2 affects the genital area, the anal area, and the mouth. It can also spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
Common symptoms are blisters around the mouth, anus, or genital area, which can be painful and takes from a week to longer to heal. Other symptoms include fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Some people are asymptomatic, while others can have repeated occurrences. Genital herpes has no permanent cure, but medications like antiviral medications can help relieve symptoms and prevent spreading.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can also be infected through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. HPV has over 40 types, and most of them cause no harm. The body’s immune system can get rid of the disease independently. Note that some HPV causes genital warts, infecting the mouth and throat. Severe cases can lead to cervix, penis, mouth, or throat cancer. This is why doctors advise every person from 11 to 26 get vaccinated for HPV. For women, a Pap Smear test can detect symptoms early and prevent cervical cancer.
If you have never heard of HIV by now, you need your head to be examined again. HIV means human immunodeficiency virus. It is the most dreaded type of disease as the virus attacks the body’s immune system. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, and fatigue can occur. HIV has no cure for now, but it can be managed. If not, the disease can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is fatal.
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STI statistics in Nigeria
There are few statistics about STIs in Nigeria. Here are a few statistics about the infections in Nigeria. According to Statista, Nigeria registers some of the world’s highest numbers of AIDS-related deaths. About 1.9 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria. Deaths caused by HIV/AIDs are 5.18%, while about 90% of people living with HIV in Nigeria receive antiretroviral therapy.
The research also discovered that about 16 percent of women were tested for syphilis in antenatal clinics in Nigeria, and 0.8 percent tested positive as of 2017. About 75% of the women who tested positive were treated in antenatal clinics.
Finally, STDs are not the end of the world. However, you’re advised to stay safe, practice safe sex, or outright abstinence. Also, make visiting a doctor for medical checkups a routine, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.
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