Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the category of health conditions developing as a result of unprotected sexual contacts. STDs can be categorized based on the nature of the infectious pathogens, as well as their effect on the organism. In this way, it is possible to distinguish three major groups including venereal diseases, skin diseases (e.g., scabies), and disorders affecting other body systems aside from the genitourinary one (e.g., AIDS).
Most Common Pathogens
Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the causative pathological agent involved in the disease progression. It can be located either on the surface or the inside of the cells. The infectious process causes damage to the mucous membrane of such organs like uterus, lower intestine, urethra, throat cavity, etc. and provokes such common symptoms as the purulent and serous-pruritic discharge from the genitals, frequent urination, pain, burning, itching, swelling, and ulceration of mucous membranes, etc. Gonorrhea can be treated with immunotherapy, antibiotic polypharmacy, as well as oral cephalosporin or 2 g azithromycin (Thuener & Clouse, 2014).
Treponema pallidum is the causative agent of syphilis. It can affect any organ and body system. After entering the body, the pathogen spreads either through the hematogenous or lymphogenic pathways. The incubation period can last from one week to four months and, during this time, the patient may show no symptoms. The common sign of syphilis is the development of a stain in the place of treponemes’ penetration. This stain eventually becomes a papule turning into the erosion. At later stages, the erythematous, papular, pustular rash appears. Then, the STD can damage internal organs including the brain, heart, kidneys, etc. A natural sequel to the destruction and squeezing of blood vessels and the organs caused by syphilis is death. The most effective treatment method is the intake of antibiotics: penicillins, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, and tetracyclines (Sutton, 2014).
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
All papillomaviruses have a similar genetic structure and morphology. They contain three types of capsid proteins and complexes of closed circular DNA with a histone cell (Miller, Puricelli, & Stack, 2012). It is observed that HPV DNA may persist in the cells of the basal layer of epithelium for a significant period, and then it can progress through the inclusion of HPV DNA into the cellular genome and can be developed as the malignant transformation of the epithelium (Miller et al., 2012). Some types of HPV are harmless while others (i.e., types 16, 18, 6, and 11) may provoke the development of multiple oncologic diseases such as cervical cancer, pathological and precancerous changes of the cervix, the external genitalia cancers, and genital warts. The recent research findings reveal that almost all cases of cervical cancer are provoked by HPV, and the majority of the clinical cases can be prevented by an early HPV vaccination (Ladner, Besson, Rodrigues, Audureau, & Saba, 2014).
A holistic care program for patients with STDs should include pharmacologic treatment, psychological counseling, partner therapy, and education. The fact that STDs are associated with a high rate of health disparities and stigmatization, the provision of mental and social support to patients may be considered the primary care practices (Morris et al., 2014). Moreover, it is essential to carry out the patient and the community education to reduce the marginalization of people with STD, increase the number of referrals to hospitals for regular screening, and promote health-protective behaviors.
According to recent statistics, the rate of STD-related morbidity continues to grow every year. For instance, it is observed that the rate of syphilis occurrence in males has increased annually since 2000 and, only during 2014-2015, the increase equaled 18.1% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). It is possible to say that such factors as an early sexual activity, frequent change of partners, and the neglect of protective measures largely contribute to the dissemination of the problem. Therefore, an effective intervention plan addressing the identified behavioral risks should be designed and implemented.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Sexually transmitted disease surveillance. Web.
Ladner, J., Besson, M., Rodrigues, M., Audureau, E., & Saba, J. (2014). Performance of 21 HPV vaccination programs implemented in low and middle-income countries, 2009–2013. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 670.
Miller, D. L., Puricelli, M. D., & Stack, M. S. (2012). Virology and molecular pathogenesis of HPV (human papillomavirus)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. The Biochemical Journal, 443(2), 339-353.
Morris, J. L., Lippman, S. A., Philip, S., Bernstein, K., Neilands, T. B., & Lightfoot, M. (2014). Sexually transmitted infection-related stigma and shame among African American male youth: Implications for testing practices, partner notification, and treatment. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 28(9), 499-506.
Sutton, C. M. (2014). Syphilis. In N. S. Skolnik, A. L. Clouse, & J. A. Woodward (Eds.), Sexually transmitted diseases: A practical guide for primary care (pp. 107-116), Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.
Thuener, J. E., & Clouse, A. L. (2014). Gonorrhea. In N. S. Skolnik, A. L. Clouse, & J. A. Woodward (Eds.), Sexually transmitted diseases: A practical guide for primary care (pp. 61-70), Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.