How Common are STDs?

Worldwide it is estimated that most adults acquire at least one STI in their lifetime. Throughout the world sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) rank among the most common infections.Certain STIs are distributed evenly throughout any society, e.g. are chlamydial infections, genital infections with HPV, genital herpes etc.

Some STIs are distributed among “core populations”. The ‘core populations’ include high rates of sexual partner change, some homosexual men, multiple concurrent sexual partners, highly connected sexual networks (involving prostitutes and their clients), users of illicit drugs (drug abusers especially crack cocaine, methamphetamine etc.). Examples of these “core populations” STIs are syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV infection, hepatitis B, chancroid etc.

At present more than 30 infections are there which can be classified under STDs (sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmissible diseases with sexual mode as minor mode and sexually transmissible diseases). 90% of the worlds STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are seen in the developing countries where 75% of the world population resides. There are many factors for high numbers of STIs in the developing countries, like rural to urban migration, high population growth (especially high number of young adults), poverty, wars etc. which causes risky sexual behavior.

Generally three factors influence the rate of spread of STDs in a community. These factors are rate of sexual exposure of susceptible individuals to infectious (STDs) people, duration of infectivity (longer duration if not treated adequately) and efficiency of transmission of STDs per sexual exposure. So aim and efforts of preventing (and reducing) STDs should be to decrease the rate of sexual exposure of susceptible individuals to infected persons (by individual counseling), reduce duration of infectivity by early diagnosis and prompt curative or suppressive treatment and to reduce efficiency of transmission by use of barrier methods like condoms and safer sexual practices and recently through male circumcision (in selected cases).

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