Sexual health awareness

by Dr Donna Robinson

STDs can affect people from all ethnicities, races and ages, but adolescents and young people are the most impacted. Estimates suggest that even though youth make up only 25t% of the sexually active population, nearly half of all STD cases occur in people aged 15 to 24.

It is important that people in this age group receive comprehensive preventative care to ensure that they are well educated on the transmission of these diseases, how to prevent them, testing and treatment. However, there are factors like stigma and lack of access to information or services that can prevent young adults from getting the help and information they need to make sure that they have good sexual health. Providers and services need to be open about talking about these subjects and initiating the conversation about having healthy sexual interactions. 

Getting tested for STDs and STIs are one of the most important tools for prevention and treatment. Early detection is a key aspect of being tested as many STDs have no early symptoms, yet they can cause major problems in the future such as infertility and early treatment. Getting treatment early on can help minimise those effects. 

Sexually transmitted diseases/infections can be spread through contact with any body fluids: blood, semen, saliva (only for herpes). They can also spread through contact with infected skin, like sores in the mouth. The exposure to infected skin and body fluids is increased when sexually active. Illicit drug use can also spread STIs, due to sharing needles. 

Unprotected sex, multiple sex partners and illicit drug use as well as poor awareness on sexual health increase the risk of STDs. However, STDs are treatable and curable. Being conscious of the 5 Ps and awareness on sexual health can prevent these diseases, leading to a happier and healthier life. 

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