What do you need to bear in mind to prevent sexually transmitted infections?
Society is constantly asking for more information on sexually transmitted infections: the only way to avoid them is prevention, but it is also important to provide information on safe sex.
Sexually transmitted infections are among the five main categories of illness for which adults seek medical attention. They are made of a series of pathologies, each with a different aetiology, for which sexual transmission is relevant from a epidemiology point of view. There are, however, other ways of contracting them, such as perinatal or parenteral.
Counselling, offering advice and behavioural approaches are the primary prevention methods against STIs, which include:
- Advice on safe sex, reducing risks and promoting condom use
- Integrated sex education, giving advice before and after STI testing
- Sex advice and education adapted to the needs of adolescents
- Interventions directed at key population groups, including sex workers, men who have sex with other men and injected drug users.
Counselling can improve people's ability to recognise the symptoms of STIs, which will increase the likelihood that they will seek attention and encourage their sexual partners to do so.
Unfortunately, lack of awareness among the population, rooted in generally stigma surrounded STIs, continues to make healthcare interventions less effective.
Partner notification in STIs is the process by which the sexual partners of a patient diagnosed with an STI are identified and informed of the risk of contracting the infection. They are then offered care and treatment by a healthcare professional. Partner notification has clinical and public health advantages for three reasons:
It avoids the patient being reinfected.
People with infections but no symptoms are diagnosed and treated.
It closes the infection transmission chain.
The epidemiology of STIs has changed over the last few years and infections are seeing a resurgence. This phenomenon can be associated with new behavioural traits: using new technologies to look for sexual partners, increased population mobility, relaxing condom use, etc.
Given the above, adopting new strategies for control and prevention is unquestionably needed. Among these we should include partner notification and its methodological value based on scientific evidence.
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