Straight, No Chaser: The Sexually Transmitted Disease Summary and The Week In Review, Sept. 29th, 2013


Based on your responses to the pictures posted this week, I should have renamed the blog, Scared Straight, No Chaser. The irony of it all is without exception, those pictures were very typical representations of the various sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some of you didn’t like it, but I do appreciate that large numbers of you read it all. I hope you learned a lot and even more importantly were moved into (in)action. In case you missed anything:

On Sunday, we began the week with a look at bacterial vaginosis (BV), which may be associated with sex but is not an STI. It’s important for women to take an active effort to learn their bodies and the effects various activities have. Remember, BV is easily treated, but it’s always fair to take the opportunity to ensure that STIs aren’t also present.

On Monday, we reviewed the most common bacterial STI, chlamydia. Chlamydia is a really typical disease in that it’s contagious, easily transmitted and has substantial complications if not treated.

On Tuesday, we reviewed gonorrhea, which very often occurs in tandem with Chlamydia. Like chlamydia, it’s contagious, easily transmitted and has substantial complications if not treated. Think of gonorrhea when copious discharge is present, and don’t forget this includes the eyes, throat and joints.

On Wednesday, we reviewed the various stages of syphilis. This easily treatable yet very dangerous disease has the nasty habits of mimicking many other disease and spontaneously disappearing – which is not the same as it being cured. Instead, it progresses to more harmful stages if not identified and treated. Remember the association of syphilis with rashes involving the palms and soles.

On Thursday, we reviewed the treatment of syphilis. It is so important to understand how easily this is treated, so get checked. We also reviewed the story of the Tuskegee Experiment of Untreated Syphilis and how that (unethically) led to the knowledge we have about syphilis and the mandatory protections now in place for humans participating in medical experiments.

On Friday, we reviewed herpes. Many were shocked to learn these groups of small blisters (vesicles) can be found wherever an infection occurs, including the fingers, eyes and mouth. Think of herpes when you get a painful genital ulcer, and get checked ASAP.

On Saturday, we discussed the cauliflower ear, a too common, very preventable and apparently sought after (by certain athletes) condition seen in those with trauma to the ear. The trauma results in the accumulation of blood and clots, which damages and deforms the ear into its prototypical appearance. This leads to a life of pain and deformity.

Here are three final considerations on sexually transmitted infections.

1. They all tend to coexist. Your exposure to one places you at risk for acquiring others, including HIV/AIDS. What you don’t know can hurt you; in fact it can kill you.

2. Remember that until your partner is treated, you’re not treated.

3. Most of these diseases lead to conditions that physiologically make acquiring HIV/AIDS more likely. I didn’t discuss HIV/AIDS this week because it’s involved enough that it is its own topic with several different considerations. We’ll address these another time.

If you’re not prudent enough to practice safe sex, please be diligent enough to get tested and treated based on any suspicion. Even better – do both. The life you save will be your own.

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