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Prevention of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases

Sexually-transmitted diseases are considered the hidden epidemic by some medical practitioners. STDs are also silent killers because most cases don’t show symptoms until they develop into serious complications. Ignorance and misinformation about how a sexually transmitted disease is acquired contribute to the increase of STD cases. Finally, there is a stigma when getting an STD screening. While most people nowadays feel the importance of getting an annual STD testing, there are still some who fear being labeled promiscuous, an unfaithful partner or a sex worker.

Blood and Blood Products

One common misconception is the transmission of STDs. Most of the identified vectors for STDs such as viruses, bacteria and parasites can be transmitted in three methods. You cannot have STDs by talking, hugging, touching another individual or by using items touched by an infected person. You can get STDs through sexual contact, direct contact with infected blood and blood products, and mother-to-newborn transmission.

You can come into contact with infected blood if you share needles for tattooing and piercing and needles or syringes for injecting drugs. You are at risk of acquiring hepatitis B and C, HIV and others. Make sure that the tattoo or body artist is using new sterile needles and razors. Pick only reputable tattoo and piercing shops that regularly clean their equipment. Old and used needles must be disposed properly.

Infected blood from blood donors are risky especially if the donor was not screened. Fortunately, in Singapore health practitioners are required to observe hygienic procedures when using medical supplies. But to avoid infected blood, accept blood transfusion only when it’s needed and know your blood type in advance so that it’s easier to find donors.

Pregnancy and STDs

STDs that are left untreated can affect fertility and pregnancy. The baby is also at risk of getting the infection from the mother. An infected infant might suffer from low birth weight, sepsis, pneumonia, and congenital deformities. Others lead to prematurity or stillbirth. Worse, the mother could have a difficult pregnancy and labor. Pregnant women with STDs can still get proper treatment if an STD testing is included during prenatal visits. Antibiotics or antiretroviral medication may be prescribed based on the result of the STD test.

It’s also important for couples to get an STD screening together if they are planning to have a baby soon. Remember that even one sexually transmitted disease can cause complications. Ask your doctor about a vaccination for hepatitis B. Women aged 9 to 26 can also ask about HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer.

Use of Contraceptives and Barriers

Although not all types of STDs can be prevented by using contraceptives and barriers, they can still lower the risk of transmission. If you or your partner has a history of STD, don’t be afraid to get tested at STD clinic in Singapore to confirm your status. Do not engage in intimate encounters with people you don’t know. Avoid having multiple intimate partners at the same time. Sometimes an infected person doesn’t have any visible symptom on the body like sores, rashes and discharges.

Doctors recommend the use of latex condoms and water-based lubricants. People allergic to latex can use synthetic condoms instead. Try not to share undergarments and towels with your partner.You should agree to practice either abstinence or mutual monogamy. It’s important to have an honest talk with your partner especially if you have a history of STD. Talk it over if you think you should both get tested and treated at the same time.

Available Vaccines

Talk to your doctor in Singapore about the vaccines available.

1. Hepatitis A Virus. Hepatitis A vaccines are recommended for children aged 12 to 23 months. Travelers and those who are at risk of getting infected can also be vaccinated.

2. Hepatitis B Virus. Newborns can be given hepatitis B vaccines before they reach 6 months of age. The person is given 3 or 4 shots within 6 months. Adolescents not older than 19 years and adults who are at high risk of getting hepatitis B can still be vaccinated.

3. Four Types of Human Papillomavirus. There are available vaccines for 4 strains of HPV. They are recommended for people aged 11 to 26. Children between 11 and 12 years need two shots spaced between 12 months. Children older than 14 years need three shots within 6 months. Women not older than 26 years and men not more than 21 years old can still get vaccinated.

High-Risk Cases

During the initial interview before an STD test, the health care provider will ask about your medical history (especially if you have had STD in the past), lifestyle, sexual practices, number of intimate partners, and your line of work. They can point out if you belong to high-risk cases. Activities such as kissing and hand-to-genital contact are considered low-risk activities. Genital, anal and oral sex are considered high-risk activities. Unprotected sex as well as having more than one partner are also considered high-risk activities.

Get an STD Screening

A lot of people don’t even want to consider the idea of getting tested because they are ashamed. Some clinics in Singapore, however, provide privacy and anonymity to their patients. You can also purchase STD test kits for use at home and then send the sample to a laboratory for testing. But you will still need another set of tests at the hospital or clinic if the result is positive. STD screening is the only way to determine if you are infected. You will also need several tests while you’re being treated. There are different types of STD testing procedures for each sexually-transmitted disease, so be sure to talk to your doctor about the symptoms to determine which STD test is the right one for you. Get tested at least once a year especially if you are sexually active.