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How to avoid sexually transmitted infections?

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Have you ever heard of STI (Sexually transmitted infections)? You may know it by the old adopted name: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), right? So it’s!



With more than 900,000 cases recorded between 2010 and 2021, Brazil faces a growing and silent epidemic of syphilis


© Shutterstock
With more than 900,000 cases recorded between 2010 and 2021, Brazil faces a growing and silent epidemic of syphilis

The term STI is considered the most correct because a person can be apparently healthy but infected. As a result, she passes the same way, without any signs or symptoms of illness. Which is very dangerous, isn’t it?

This is a question that needs visibility, especially now, after the Carnival period. Even knowing that the celebrations have been canceled has not stopped the infections from continuing to occur. Even because it is at this time of the year that they appear considerable increases due to unprotected sex.

“Carnival is a time of great extravasation and joy, especially after an extended period of restriction on social events. People often go to clubs and parties and may end up abusing alcohol and/or drugs. Therefore, it is very important to draw attention to the issue,” says Ana Paula Bento Lima, who is a nurse and works with the infection control department of a hospital.

How do they occur and what are the most common STIs?

First, sexually transmitted infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms. Transmission occurs through sexual contact – whether oral, vaginal or anal – with an infected person who does not use a condom.

Some of the most common infections include:

  • Genital herpes;
  • HPV;
  • Gonorrhea;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • Hepatitis B and C;
  • chlamydia;
  • trichomoniasis;
  • Syphilis.

Among all those listed, the one that worries us the most at the moment is syphilis, due to a silent epidemic that is raging in Brazil. According to data from the Epidemiological Bulletin of the Ministry of Health, approximately 917,473 cases of acquired syphilis were reported between 2010 and June 2021.

“Today there is a false impression that if someone is infected, all you have to do is treat them, without using condoms. This is a mistake. Some STIs end up becoming chronic diseases and can cause future complications », warns the nurse.



Condoms are still the most effective barrier against STIs today (Photo: Shutterstock)


© Provided by Alto Astral
Condoms are still the most effective barrier against STIs today (Photo: Shutterstock)

Prevention:

The first step towards prevention is condom use, whether male or female. It is the only effective method to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Have a unprotected sex puts you at risk of contracting an STI, regardless of your age, sex, marital status or orientation. However, Ana Paula recalls that the exclusive use of condoms does not play its role alone: ​​”It should be mentioned that only an exclusive offer of condoms is not enough to guarantee the different aspects of sexual health”, explains the nurse. .

For this, it is necessary to practice “combined prevention”, which includes the use of condoms, precautionary measures, diagnosis and treatment. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which prevents HIV from establishing itself and spreading throughout the body. Treatment and condoms are provided free of charge by the Unified Health System (SUS).

With treatment, it is possible to improve the quality of life and also to interrupt this cycle of transmission of infections.

Symptoms:

Usually STI symptoms usually appear mainly in the genitals, but that’s not a rule, you see? Some can appear on the palms of the hands, eyes, and other parts of the body.

“During personal hygiene, monitor your body, this can help identify an infection at an early stage. If you notice any signs or symptoms, seek the health department, regardless of when you last had sex,” explains the nurse.

The specialist also points out that some of these infections can go unnoticed for a long time. “These cases are considered asymptomatic. If left undiagnosed and untreated, they can lead to serious complications such as infertility, cancer, and even death.

What to do in case of an unprotected relationship?

In the event of risky sexual exposure, the nurse warns that it is possible to resort to post-exposure prophylaxis, commonly called DYNAMISM. It is an urgent preventive measure against HIV infection, available in health facilities.

“PEP consists of the use of drugs capable of reducing the risk of contracting these infections. It must be used within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, for 28 days,” says Ana Paula.

Finally, even with the use of prophylaxis, the condom remains the most effective protective barrier, as it is able to prevent other infections, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, not covered by PEP. “When you go out for fun, always have condoms handy. Thanks to them, we can prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. In addition, regular follow-up is extremely important,” he concludes.

Source:Ana Paula Bento Lima, nurse and head of the hospital infection control service at the Geral de Itapevi hospital.

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