Sexually Transmitted infections (STI) and Condom Week is commemorated on the 12 -16 of February 2023 in order to raise awareness regarding condom usage and STDs as well as to root out stigma and other related infections.
Unpacking the provincial department’s commemorative plan for the campaign, MEC Madoda Sambatha revealed that to date, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remain a big problem, even though most of the infections can be cured.
“The fear of being stigmatised is one of the many reasons why people are reluctant to seek medical treatment for sexually transmitted infections,” MEC Sambatha highlighted.
“As a department, we will be embarking on awareness campaigns on STI/ Condom week to target young people in Jouberton, Klerksdorp in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district on 14 February 2023 to spread the message of protection against sexually transmitted infection and unwanted pregnancy. This campaign will be rolled out across the province, specifically targeting students at FET colleges” added MEC Sambatha
A sexually transmitted infection or STI is an infection that is spread from an infected person to another through sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal sex). The infection can be contracted by having unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has an STI. It can be difficult to tell if someone has an STI. STIs can be spread even if there are no signs or symptoms.
It is important for one to observe the following sign or symptoms of STIs:
• A discharge from the penis in men or abnormal discharge from the vagina in women.
• Pain on passing urine
• Pain or swelling of the testicles. Infections like gonorrhoea and chlamydia may present like this
• Sores or ulcers in the genital area (that is private parts) or around the anus
• Swellings in the groin- Infections like herpes and syphilis may present like this
• Warts in the private parts. These are caused by a virus called HPV. Certain types of HPV can cause cancer of the uterus in women.
Individuals experiencing such symptoms are advised to inform their current or recent sexual partners so they can also be treated at their local health facility. Some viruses like herpes cause life-long infections and may cause repeated sores in the genital area. Some STIs can easily be cured with treatment, while others are treated to manage the symptoms and reduce the spread to sexual partners. Treatment may involve taking medicine or getting injections. For other STIs that cannot be cured like herpes or HIV, medicines can help reduce the symptoms, control the infection and prevent spread to sex partners.
The danger of leaving STIs untreated is they may cause long-term complications such as ongoing lower abdominal pain, infertility and pregnancy complications like stillbirths and pre-term delivery. If you are not treated for an STI, you can spread the infection to your sex partner, may be at increased risk of contracting HIV and also of transmitting HIV to partners if they have an STI-HIV co-infection. Therefore, HIV testing and linkage to care is an important part of STI management.
The best measures to follow to prevent the STIs:
• The best way to protect against STIs is to practice safe sex and to avoid risky sexual behaviour.
• Consistent and correct condom use will provide protection against STIs and also prevent unplanned pregnancy.
• Male circumcision done safely at a clinic or hospital can reduce the risk of HIV and STIs in men.
• A good vaccine is available to protect against HPV, which is a virus that causes cancer of the uterus in women.
“It is important for individuals to go to the clinic for treatment if one suspect any signs and symptoms. Treatment for STIs and provision of condoms is given free of charge at primary healthcare clinics across the province. Most STIs are easily treated and can be cured” Sambatha said.
MLO MEC Support
ISSUED BY NORTH WEST DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH