Sexually Transmitted Diseases - STDs
In February 2002 the British Medical Association (BMA) Science Department and Board of Science and Education published a document called 'Sexually Transmitted Infections'.
In the past these STIs would have been called 'Sexually Transmitted Diseases' (STDs) and before that 'Venereal Disease' (VD). To make the contracting of such infectious and contagious diseases seem more acceptable and sanitised and less shameful for those who may see this as an 'occupational hazard' and something that is 'bound to happen' the terminology has had to be adjusted. In films we are told 'the names have been changed to protect the innocent'. Here we have 'the name has been changed to protect the guilty'.
|Disease:||A condition of (a part of) a living animal or plant body that impairs the performance of a vital function.|
|Infection:||(An agent that causes) a contagious or infectious disease.|
People are not just getting an infection - they are being infected with diseases.
Once a sexually transmitted virus has been contracted there is no cure.
Many of the rampant sexually transmitted infections are producing diseases in people who will have them for life. This means that any future partner (male or female) is likely to also contract this disease and have it for life. The rest of the sexually transmitted bacteria that are contracted may be in the body causing many problems unbeknown to the person until such time as, for example, the woman tries to conceive only to be told that she is infertile due to Chlamydia having infected the fallopian tubes, thus causing scarring tissue that effectively blocks the tube, preventing the egg from passing through and being fertilised. Or the sperm could manage to pass through and fertilise an egg, but due to scarring caused by Chlamydia, the newly created child who is much larger than a single sperm, is unable to pass through the scarred tissue and an ectopic pregnancy occurs. Following an emergency operation to remove the tube and save the mother's life, the possibility of future pregnancies is reduced by half, assuming that the other fallopian tube is not also scarred. In all cases, the disease is within the body causing damage one way or another.
Changing the name from sexually transmitted diseases to sexually transmitted infections to make it sound less dangerous is extremely dangerous in itself. This is counter productive as, although it means people are not so stigmatised and visit GUM clinics more readily, they are also not fully understanding the dangers and consequences of contracting these diseases in the first place. It is not 'cool' or whatever the 'in' word is to have VD or an STD but it is 'okay' to have a STI.
It must be asked who has authorised this change from sexually transmitted diseases to sexually transmitted infections. Are there further name changes in the pipeline to make these diseases even more palatable to the ever younger generation who are contracting these potentially harmful diseases?
The first thing to note in the document is that in the Table of Contents HIV/Aids is included as one of 'The most common sexually transmitted infections'; Chlamydia, Genital Warts, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhoea, HIV/Aids, Hepatitis, Syphilis, Infestations, Common vaginal conditions.
Immediately this should set alarm bells sounding as HIV/Aids is globally promoted on its own as a condition that seemingly has no connection to other forms of sexually transmitted infections. We have a World Aids Day, marches, separate fund raising, special hospitals, prominent celebrities making their voices heard and an even more prominent link to homosexual men and HIV/Aids. Yet HIV/Aids is one of many sexually transmitted diseases. Why do we not have World Chlamydia Day or World Gonorrhoea Day or World 'any other sexually transmitted infection' Day? Why is the money collected for HIV/Aids not shared amongst all the 'charities' for all the other sexually transmitted infections? In fact, where are all the other charities for sexually transmitted infections? Where are the specific hospitals for those suffering from the various sexually transmitted infections? Do royalty or celebrities visit these sufferers? If not, why not?
There seems to be a complete imbalance in the whole area of what is 'acceptable' and what is 'unacceptable'. Where, why and how has this discrepancy crept in? What has happened that nationwide (and worldwide) people are encouraged to support those with Aids, but not those with any other sexually transmitted disease? Statistically, what proportion of those with sexually transmitted infections have Aids? Equally, what proportion of those with Aids have other sexually transmitted infections? Are they willing to admit this? Do other forms of sexually transmitted infections have any detrimental effect on those with Aids and their treatment? What studies have been done to ascertain this information? What studies have been done to determine whether it is heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, male or female that have which diseases? What studies have been carried out to determine how many partners each person with sexually transmitted infections have had, and frequency of intercourse, as well as frequency of change of partner? How many 'partners' were one night stands? How many were short term relationships? How many were long term relationships? How many multiple partner relationships were there?
Obviously those who had never had pre-marital sex or only have ever had sex with each other (married or not), or those who have never had sex will not appear in any statistics, thus making any report biased as these people will not have the sexually transmitted infections and therefore will not need to go to GUM clinics to be treated. (This would be the obvious solution for preventing further occurrences of sexually transmitted diseases in the future.)
Having said that, reading the report, it is noted that all pregnant women are routinely tested for HIV, whether they know it or request it or not. Again this is a complete anomaly as more women are likely to have Chlamydia than HIV yet are not automatically tested for Chlamydia but women who have been faithful to one man (and vice versa) are unlikely to have either disease yet they are still being tested. Why? What is so special about HIV/Aids over all other sexually transmitted infections that it commands so much attention?
Serious questions need to be asked and this information passed down to the general public. HIV/Aids is another sexually transmitted infection that is transferred in the same way as any other sexually transmitted infection and they can all be avoided if abstaining from sex before marriage and faithfulness within marriage was taught. This is better than 'safer sex' - it is 'saved sex'. It is the least we can do for our children.
It would also have been useful if we were given the names of the current 35 or so sexually transmitted infections, not just the main ones, and a possible explanation of why the actual number of sexually transmitted infections have increased over the last 5, 10 and 20 years. No mention of this increase was forthcoming in the report. Are these extra sexually transmitted infections variant strains of the ones mentioned in the report? How dangerous are they? How many are viral and how many are bacterial? If they are viruses then whoever catches them will have them for life. People need to know this. If they are bacterial then do all forms of antibiotics cure the illness or are these new strains of sexually transmitted infections already resistant to antibiotics? What ongoing studies are being carried out to ascertain where, how and why these extra sexually transmitted infections are occurring? Is it just in the UK or is it worldwide that new sexually transmitted infections are manifesting? Are they the same or different diseases?
In the 'Forward' it is noted that "the study would consider long and short-term health implications, testing and prevention". It would seem that prevention of such diseases was forgotten in the final report. It was also stated that "the issues of HIV/Aids and contraception, whilst important, would not be considered in detail as these areas have been addressed in previous board reports". However, as the promotion of contraception and the acceptance of HIV/Aids (see above) as distinct from other forms of sexually transmitted infections are part of the problem of the spread of sexually transmitted infections, then they should be discussed constantly in relation to any report and not isolated from it.
The word condom was not even mentioned in this report, yet condoms as a contraceptive have a high failure rate which is normally calculated on the number of pregnancies. This figure needs to be multiplied by at least 4 as women can only become pregnant for a maximum of one week in four, but condoms can fail (break, slip off, not be put on properly) every day. As sexually transmitted infections can also be contracted on a daily basis and the condom can fail every day (that is not even taking into account the inherent holes in condoms that allow the sexually transmitted infections through) then it can be seen that the risks are extremely high, yet condoms are promoted as the answer to everything. They are obviously more likely to be the reason for the spread of the sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and not the solution to prevent sexually transmitted infections from spreading further. This acknowledgement of the failure of condoms is vital especially when we are not only promoting their use in this country where we have, in theory, medical facilities to treat these diseases, but this country, through the Department of International Trade and Development as well as other agencies, including the family planning association, Marie Stopes and sadly even many Christian charities, are promoting the use of condoms worldwide, including third world countries that do not have even the basic use of antibiotics for normal everyday illnesses, let alone sexually transmitted diseases.
The Forward also says that "contact details of relevant organisations with specialist knowledge of the medical, scientific or health education of this subject are provided for those requiring further information". Would these bodies include experts from groups who speak out against the current 'safer sex' campaign? Would their arguments be equally heard so that those seeking information receive balanced reports? Would abstinence be promoted? Would Natural Family Planning be promoted? If not, why not? Why can the 'sexperts' not accept that more of the same policies only produces more of the same problems?
The 'inclusive' policy of "if it feels good, do it so long as no one gets hurt" doesn't ring true in these circumstances as many people are finding out to their cost, and to the cost to society. People have to take time off work to attend clinics or are too ill to go into work. Money that could be spent on other forms of NHS care is diverted away from other desperately ill patients who have to wait months (formerly years) to be seen so that sexually transmitted infections and HIV patients can be treated immediately. Why is this form of illness such a priority? Who decreed it as such? Who is making money from these policies? Is it the drug companies or the condom manufacturers or both? In the meantime, people contract sexually transmitted infections, many for life, with some people eventually dying from their 'free' lifestyle due to broken promises about 'safe sex'.
The introduction begins with the sentence "While it is healthy for individuals to enjoy active sex..." It can hardly be healthy with over 25 (and possibly over 35 and rising) sexually transmitted diseases to be aware of. What constitutes 'healthy'? By whose criteria is this statement promoted? With a rising number of people becoming infected due to sexually transmitted infections it is obvious that active sex is not healthy from a physical point of view.
Casual sex, which is the underlying cause of sexually transmitted infections spreading so swiftly, not only causes physical illness but also emotional ill health particularly amongst women. Many people experience deep emotional trauma following the break up of a relationship - more so if sex has taken place. For those seeking to be loved and cared for, to have a relationship end, no matter how long it has lasted, subconsciously or consciously makes the person feel used, abused, unworthy and lowers self esteem which may not have been particularly high to begin with.
Many one night stands occur following a visit to a nightclub where drink and possibly drugs will have been consumed. In the cool light of day, active sex can then be seen, not as 'healthy' but as a regret where even something as simple as correct names may not have been exchanged. To then find out that a sexually transmitted disease has been contracted, possibly one that is for life, is certainly not seen as 'healthy'. A healthy relationship needs to be founded on truth and respect, something that is seemingly not promoted as much as the 'safer sex' concept of condoms and morning after pills at the ready before going out for a night on the town.
The Introduction continues by saying "STIs are among the most common causes of illness". If this is so then it is easily remedied by promoting abstinence or chastity. Our NHS already has a cash crisis and anything and everything that can be done to make us a healthier nation should be encouraged. The above sentence shows that these causes of illness are self inflicted. For those who respect their own body as well as respecting their boyfriend/girlfriend by not jumping into bed at the first meeting and remaining virgins until marriage are not likely to contract these diseases. This healthy lifestyle of mutual trust and respect is the only way that the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases will reduce and eventually be contained.
The report states that "some STIs have potentially serious outcomes for physical and psychological health and may have an adverse impact upon relationships." As already stated above, it is obvious anyone having a sexually transmitted disease will have an adverse impact on relationships. Who would want to go out with someone knowing that they have a life-long contagious potentially harmful illness? At what point does one person in the relationship tell the other person of this illness? Is it right at the beginning of the relationship with the possibility of an immediate break-up? Or is it some months later when it becomes serious and possibly much harder for the infected person to admit the truth, knowing they should have been open earlier? This may well cause a more emotional break-up.
The report also states "some (STIs) favour the spread of HIV infection". There is no explanation for this statement although it can be assumed that as a body is weakened by HIV so sexually transmitted diseases spread more easily and thus cause the immune system of the body to be under even greater stress and weakening the body even faster, despite the use of antiviral drugs. It is probable that the HIV sufferer (generally linked to homosexual men) is more prone to catch sexually transmitted diseases as anal sex would spread infections faster as the body cannot naturally accommodate penetration in this way, and so tissue tearing occurs and the wound is infected. Oral sex is another way that sexually transmitted diseases are easily spread, including HIV, which again would involve many homosexual men. It has already been pointed out that HIV/Aids is seen as acceptable (in fact, to be 'politically correct' and 'inclusive' it has to be seen as acceptable) yet 'ordinary' sexually transmitted diseases are something that has to be stopped or at the very least, contained.
Sexually transmitted diseases cannot be seen as a problem for one section of the community without looking at the causes in all sections of the community. Lifestyles have to change for the problems of infectivity to be solved.
The third major public health problem due to sexually transmitted diseases is that "some cause serious ill health in mothers and babies, and may cause infertility". This is an especially sad major concern as mothers can and do pass on their infection or disease to their baby particularly during the birth. It is noted that in the case of Genital Herpes during late pregnancy specialist advice is needed in case the baby becomes infected.
Any mother should be especially worried that any sexually transmitted virus that she has could be passed on to her baby, infecting the baby for life (viruses cannot be cured).
It is hoped that abortion (the killing of the innocent child) is not offered as a solution to any mother with any sexually transmitted diseases as the abortion procedure can, and does, introduce sexually transmitted diseases directly into the womb via the instruments used, risking more infection, scarring and possible infertility.
The most commons STIs
The report states “Understanding the basic facts about STIs and how they are transmitted are the first steps towards prevention”. It should be obvious that sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted by people going from one partner to another and passing the infections on. As most of the sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms, those engaging in sex with multiple partners and contracting the diseases will not know they are themselves infectious and so will continue in their chosen lifestyle. If someone has a cold or flu, other people avoid that person ‘like the plague’ knowing that there is a very strong likelihood that even relatively close contact (just being in the same room for any amount of time) will mean they will contract the cold. If common sense says “avoid a person with a cold” then surely common sense would say “avoid a person with a sexually transmitted disease”.
If it is someone you hardly know and especially if there are no symptoms then why would anyone risk physical contact and risk getting numerous sexually transmitted diseases? Nobody would kiss someone with a cold and not expect to get it, yet people willingly jump into bed and put their whole lives at risk. This is due to the fact that the risks and dangers of contracting sexually transmitted diseases are not made known but rather are seen as something that needs to be treated once contracted. Abstinence, particularly amongst the young should be part of the PSHE classes and taught alongside the risks and dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. The old saying “prevention is better than cure” should be upheld at all times, especially in any sex education lesson, giving the youngsters the information that will enable them to make life choices about their own future. Promoting condoms and ‘safer sex’ has clearly not worked in the past and will clearly continue not to work in the future. If it did work, the figures would not be constantly rising.