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  |   Business


Why Undiagnosed STDs are a Major Health Threat

Just because a problem isn’t obvious, it doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Indeed, given all the intense media coverage of the fast-spreading Wuhan coronavirus, one could be forgiven for overlooking more commonplace, but decidedly just as grave, threats to public health. One such set of infections that are too often ignored are STDs –– sexually transmitted diseases. Yet, the reality is that STDs are more of a problem than ever before. In October, the CDC reported record highs for three common STDs in the US. The issue with many STDs, though, is that a huge number of people may have one and not even realize it. The CDC recognizes this fact in its own research. What’s more, other studies indicate that up to 90% of people infected with herpes don’t know it.

Why is this the case?

The Education Problem

A big stumbling block to STD diagnosis is simply a lack of education on the subject. The stark truth is that many people simply don’t know anything about STDs –– how they’re transmitted or what their symptoms look like. What’s more, they might not even realize that STDs are dangerous. Because of the sensitive nature of STDs, people are naturally hesitant to discuss them in public. In the meantime, though, nearly one in two sexually active people will contract an STD by the age of 25.

Shadow Infections

In addition to the stigmas and misinformation regarding STDs, people may struggle to recognize common symptoms or signs simply because they’re easy to miss. STDs can remain asymptomatic for weeks, months, or in some instances, years at a time. (“Fun” fact: chlamydia comes from the Greek word for “cloak.”) What’s more, STD symptoms may disappear naturally over time, even if the infection persists. Finally, many common STD symptoms resemble other, more innocuous conditions like yeast infections or acne.

Untreated STDs

While STDs may not manifest in obvious ways, they can have a severely detrimental effect on overall health. Of course, HIV can lead to a number of “opportunistic infections” in addition to painful sores and lesions on the body. Left untreated, HIV can be fatal. However, other STDs can prove dangerous as well. Syphilis can contribute to nerve damage, blindness, and even death in extreme cases. And infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea may lead to infertility. They are also linked to a number of birth complications, including ectopic pregnancy.

Dealing with the Threat

Education is the first step toward eradicating STDs. The good news here is that much progress has been made toward curing or managing serious STDs –– most notably HIV. Also, it’s recommended that all sexually active individuals visit Same Day STD testing facilities on a regular basis. It’s impossible to correctly self-diagnose –– let alone treat –– an STD. That’s why it’s best to leave that job to the professionals.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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