Sexually transmitted diseases: How to protect yourself from infection

Rise Of STIs In Australia

Sexually transmitted infections are not a new thing – as long as there have been humans and sexual activity there have been infections that can be transmitted from one person to another via genital contact. Even though there are methods of barrier contraception in this day and age, however, it is estimated that levels of STIs are at their highest levels ever.

Part of this is due to a shift in attitudes towards sexual behaviour over the last few decades

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras and through to the nineteen sixties sex was considered a taboo subject and not something for polite conversation. Whilst many human beings have often had multiple partners – this is hardly a new thing, even when it was not openly discussed! – there was a hypocrisy surrounding human sexual behaviour during these eras which meant that people were meant to be chaste outside of marriage, even though many of them clearly were not.

The Sixties saw the beginning of the so-called Sexual Revolution, and the spread of the ideology of Free Love

In the pre AIDs and yet post Pill period, despite the fact that condoms were readily available (and indeed had been used in some form or other for centuries) many people felt that they could have as much sex as they liked with as many partners as they chose and did not have to worry about barrier methods of contraception. This inevitably led to the spread of several types of sexual disease. In addition to this, modern day antibiotics meant that people did not consider STIs to be the ‘big deal’ that they used to be, as things that at one point would have been considered extremely serious or potentially even fatal (Syphilis, for instance) could now be treated fairly easily and without long term negative repercussions.

The major STI that has cast a shadow over the entire world since the nineteen eighties is, of course, HIV and AIDS

At first this disease was greeted with terror by most sexually active people and it led to the establishment of a campaign to promote Safe Sex in the form of barrier contraceptives (condoms). For a long time this campaign experienced a high success rate and levels of not just HIV/AIDS infection but also other forms of common STI were lowered. Recently, however, especially with the development of drugs which effectively prolong the lives of those infected by HIV/AIDS, the message has lost its impact somewhat and the current generation of younger people have higher rates of STIs than did their parents.

Technology And Disease

Some of the most prolific sexually transmitted infections are those which are the least easy to recognise

Chlamydia – a serious infection which can cause infertility in women if left untreated, often presents no discernible symptoms at all and can only be diagnosed with a visit to a General Practitioner or a clinic which specialises in sexual health. Whilst this condition is very easily treated in both men and women with a course of antibiotics many sufferers are unfortunately not aware that they have been infected and so postpone diagnosis and treatment until it is unfortunately too late to prevent permanent damage to fertility.

 

Other forms of STI, whilst not life threatening, can be equally unpleasant

A very common STI is Genital Warts, which unfortunately is very easily transmitted from one person to another and can lead to flare ups throughout the rest of the sufferers life, as the infection remains dormant in the system even if there are currently no visible symptoms. Like herpes which causes outbreaks of blisters on the genitals, this is really not a condition that you want to find yourself having to live with!

The best way to prevent STIs is to use barrier methods of contraception such as condoms

Although some people will try to promote abstinence as a more effective means of prevention research has shown that this is simply not viable and that rates of STIs and indeed unwanted pregnancies are often higher amongst communities which do not try to educate people about safe sex. Ultimately, sex is a biological urge and many people are going to do it whether they are told to or not. In order to be safe – always put a rubber on it.