Sexually Transmitted Diseases Essay, Research Paper
AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, just a few of the many sexually transmitted diseases that are now so very common among today s youth. Some of them are more serious than others but all of them are a growing concern. Most are curable with a few treatments and trips to the doctor but among the more serious are AIDS and herpes. As we progress in technology, and just about everything else in society we also find our teenagers progressing more rapidly and with this comes concerns that scare us all to talk about let alone deal with.
Today one in every four sexually active teens has a sexually transmitted disease. (Witmer) I am writing this paper not only because I have to in order to graduate, but also to educate people, especially people my age about sexually trans-mitted diseases and just how very serious they really are.
By far the most serious of all sexually transmitted diseases is AIDS. Today it is found that one in every four sexually active teenagers is infected with HIV or worse yet, full blown AIDS. (Witmer)
It is nearly impossible to know you ve been infected with HIV or AIDS because the virus can lay dormant for so long without showing any symptoms. This is why it is so easy to spread. Although there are treatments to ease the suffering of AIDS patients, there is no cure. More than 600,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the United States since 1981, and as many as 900,000 Americans have been infected with HIV. (Witmer)
The most common spread of HIV is through sexual contact with an infected partner. Because the virus is so small it can enter the body through almost any kind of sexual contact. HIV was also spread by blood transfusions given before 1985. This is now a much less likely cause though because of all the testing and screening that is done on blood used for transfusions now. Another group of people who should worry about con-tracting HIV is IV drug users that share needles. (Merge with Caution) Unborn babies are also at risk if their mothers are infected with HIV or AIDS. Also having another STD such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can make someone more susceptible to contracting HIV through sex with an infected partner. (Witmer)
Although most people don t have any symptoms when they first acquire HIV, some get a flu-like virus a month or two after contact. (Teens Talk about HIV & AIDS) More noticeable symptoms will sometimes take over 10 years to surface. This is why it is so important to get tested if you are sexually promiscuous or if you think you may be at risk for any reason. One of the more severe and physical symptoms is a painful lesion that erupts into ulcerations in the genital area. (Check, 24)
Part of the symptoms of AIDS is becoming more susceptible to other diseases and viruses; this is because AIDS breaks down your immune system, hence the name, acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (Witmer)
Since there is no vaccine for HIV the only way to prevent it is to be careful. Always look out for yourself. You can t count on anyone to be completely honest. Especially with something like a sexually transmitted disease. Even though they are horrible and very serious, many people are too embarrassed to admit that they have them, and won t tell their partners that they re infected. So next time you re watching a show about people with HIV and AIDS on TV and you start to feel sorry for the person, remind your-self that that could be you. (Witmer)
This chart illustrates groups of adolescents that are at high risk of contracting HIV. It shows how many males and females already have contracted it and how many have full-blown AIDS now. I got this chart from about.com. A website used to educate teenagers and everyone about sexually transmitted diseases. (Witmer)
Adolescent exposure category
Male Female Male Female
Men who have sex with men 680 0 817 0
Injecting drug user 125 181 93 146
Men who have sex with men and inject drugs 101 0 94 0
Hemophilia/ coagulation disor-der 734 10 104 0
Heterosexual contact: 73 673 123 983
Sex with injecting drug user 20 248 21 210
Sex with bisexual male 0 35 0 68
Sex with person with hemo-philia 1 13 2 16
Sex with transfusion recipient with HIV infection 0 2 1 4
Sex with HIV-infected person, risk not specified 52 375 99 685
Receipt of blood transfusion blood components or tissue 85 85 9 14
Other/risk not identified 220 335 523 944
What is genital herpes? Herpes is another sexually transmitted disease that is becoming more and more common especially among sexually active teenagers. The her-pes simplex virus causes herpes. There are two types of this STD that you have to worry about. (Witmer)
The first one is oral herpes; this is signified by fever blisters on the mouth and face. Yes, this means cold sores too. (Teens and HIV & other STDs) Cold sores are also a form of Type 1 herpes. (Sacks, 58) Symptoms are not always there though. Some people that are infected do have outbreaks, but because this isn t true for everyone. You must be extra careful when protecting your-self from this STD. (Witmer)
HSV-type 2 is genital herpes. This is also often inactive. Most of the people who have it don t even realize it themselves. Blisters signify type 2 also but on the genital area. Both types of herpes are serious and once you get either of them, you have it for life. (Witmer)
In a recent study it was shown that 45 million people ages 12 and older, or one out of five of the adolescent and adult population is infected with one type of herpes or the other. More females also have herpes because it is easier for male to female transmission of the virus. (Witmer)
There is no cure for herpes but there are treatments. You may see commercials for some of these on TV. These antiviral medications help suppress herpes by preventing outbreaks. (Witmer)
Because there is no cure for herpes and it can be spread even if you use protec-tion, by kissing and any sexual contact, you have to be very careful. Don t be promiscuous and know you re with. (Witmer)
The sexually transmitted disease chlamydia is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. (STD Don t Risk It)
Chlamydia is another sexually transmitted disease that often goes unnoticed and therefore untreated. Out of all the infected people 75% of women and 50% of men exhibit no symptoms (Marr, 125). Like many of the other sexually transmitted diseases that often go untreated because they remain dormant, Chlamydia can cause some serious problems. Especially down the road, and especially for women. (Witmer) When chlamydia is found though it is easily treated and cured. This is why it is so unfortunate when people don t notice it and let it go. The problems for people with this disease that don t realize they have it are very severe. (STD Don t Risk It)
One of the most common problems that is found among the infected is PID. This is pelvic inflammatory disease. (Crawford, 942) This is a great cause of infertility, and sometimes-fatal tubal pregnancy. 40% of women with untreated chlamydia will come down with PID. 20% of these women will become unfertile, 18% will have debilitating chronic pelvic pain, and 9% will have tubal pregnancy. This is the leading cause of first trimester; pregnancy related deaths in American women. Other problems created from pregnant women with untreated chlamydia resulting in PID are neonatal conjunctivitis and pneumonia. Chlamydia also increases a woman s chances of acquiring HIV by 3 to 5 fold if they re exposed to the virus. (Witmer)
It s also common to find chlamydia in adolescent males. If they let chlamydia go untreated for whatever reasons it could result in urethral infection or swollen and tender testicles. Although this may not sound as severe as the problems that women can have it is still very serious and should be taken that way. (Witmer)
Chlamydia is also the most frequently reported infectious disease in the U.S. It is thought that around 3 million cases occur annually. In 1997, only 526,653 cases were reported which is a far cry from 3 million. That just goes to illustrate how many cases of chlamydia go unnoticed, and unreported, and therefore untreated. (Witmer)
So who is most likely to get chlamydia? Well the survey says that teenage girls have the highest rates of the infection. 15-19 year olds hold the highest percentage with a staggering 46%. It is also commonly found among the economically unstable young women that are between the ages of 16 and 24. (Witmer)
Although chlamydia is treatable and curable it is very seldom noticed. So this means that you should get tested at least every 6 months if you feel you are at risk for this or any other sexually transmitted diseases. You ll be helping yourself, and countless others in the long run.
What is gonorrhea? Gonorrhea also known as the drip, is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Neiserria gonorrhea. (Teens and HIV & other STDs)
This STD is most often found in people between the ages of 15 and 30 that have had multiple partners. This age category again includes us in its highest percentage of people contracting this disease. Luckily gonorrhea is one of the sexually transmitted dis-ease that does have symptoms that are usually pretty prevalent. This doesn t make it any more attractive though or any less of a concern. (Witmer)
Gonorrhea is usually characterized by a yellowish white discharge and burning while urinating in men. In women abnormal discharge, possible abnormal bleeding, and infections in the throat and rectum characterize it. Because of all these symptoms though it s more easily recognized in time to get the proper attention and treatment. (Witmer)
The symptoms of gonorrhea appear 7 to 10 days after having sex with the infected person.(Tseng, 78) At the most it can take up to 30 days for symptoms to show up. Sometimes symptoms aren t prevalent in girls either. If this is the case and it goes untreated PID, which was mentioned in chlamydia, can occur. In men if gonorrhea goes untreated swollen testicles and penis, arthritis, skin problems and organ infections can occur. (Witmer)
Although symptoms are usually quite noticeable after a short period of time this is not the case in all people. Gonorrhea can also cause some of the severe problems chlamydia can so it is important that you get tested. (Witmer)
There is nothing we can do today to completely stop children from experimenting with sex. All we can do is pull together to educate our children about what is out there and encourage them to have safe sex. Being a teenager today and knowing the cold and harsh reality of what diseases are out there should be enough to scare the pants on anyone. I know it is for me.
Witmer, Denise. Parenting of Adolescents. About.com, Jan. 2000. http://parentingteens.about.com (3 Feb. 2000)
Teens Talk about HIV & AIDS. South Deerfield: Channing L. Bete Co., Inc, 1998.
Merge with Caution. U.S.A: SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, 1998.
Teens and HIV & Other STDs. South Deerfield: Channing L. Bete Co., Inc, 1998.
STD Don t Risk It. Santa Cruz: Journeyworks Publishing, 1998.
Marr, Lisa. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
Sacks, Stephen L. The Truth about Herpes. Seattle: Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd. 1989.
Tseng, Howard C. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Saratoga: R & E Publishers, 1987.
Check, William A. AIDS. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.
Crawford, George. Venereal Disease. Encyclopedia Americanna. 1991 ed.