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The Silent Infection (An Update on Sexually Transmitted Infections).

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. Although by text book definition these infections are described as having recognizable symptoms including lesions, discharge and odor, many of these infections remain silent especially in the very early stages. According to Center of Disease Control (CDC), there were more than 19 million new reported cases of sexually transmitted infections in the United States in 2007. Nearly half of all these infections affected adolescents and young adults between fifteen and twenty-four years of age. As staggering as these statistics are, the majority of sexually transmitted infections remain unreported and untreated due to the nature to infect without tell-tale symptoms. The cost of treatment of diagnosed infections in the U.S. has been estimated to exceed $14 billion dollars per calendar year ( There are three types of sexually transmitted infections that are classified as “reportable” by the CDC; these are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. This article will focus on these three types of infection.

Chlamydia is the most common infection with an estimated 3 million new cases each year. Chlamydia is the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. Once diagnosed, Chlamydia can be easily treated with a single dose of antibiotics. Partner treatment is required.

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infections with nearly 400 thousand reported cases. Like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea is largely undiagnosed and under-reported. It is estimated that new infections are approximately twice as high as the reported infections bringing the total number of infections to approximately 800 thousand cases per year. Gonorrhea can also be easily treated with a single dose of antibiotics. Partner treatment is required.

The third and last reportable infection is Syphilis. The rate of primary and secondary Syphilis (the most infectious stages of the disease) had decreased throughout the 1990’s and in the year 2000 reach an all time low, however, the rate of Syphilis has been increasing in recent years with approximately 11 thousand cases reported in 2007. Primary and secondary Syphilis is easily treated, partner treatment is required.

Because of biological factors, women are at greater risk than men for acquiring sexually transmitted infections and suffer from more severe health consequences associated with untreated infections. Approximately 40 percent of females with untreated infections will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility. In the pregnant woman, untreated infections can lead to long-term complications for the infant including chronic organ damage and even stillbirth or infant death.

CDC is recommending screening all sexually active women under the age of twenty-six at least once a year for sexually transmitted infections. Other screening recommendations include the screening of women over the age of twenty-six if they have risk factors including new or multiple partners. However, this screening is not routinely offered to all women nor do all women participate in annual health screening. The reasons for this include lack of knowledge, lack of resources (no or inadequate health coverage) or lack of time.

In summary, it is important that all sexually active females see a provider for sexual health screening as least once a year. Be good to yourself; protect your health by requesting screening for sexually transmitted infections at least once a year. Encourage your partner to also be screened for sexually transmitted infections by his healthcare provider as well.

(All statistics received from Centers for Disease Control:

In the event of hurricane warning, Hospital will accept women who are 37 weeks or more pregnant or who have been identified as having a risk pregnancy. Patients must be under the care of a Broward Health Staff Obstetrician.

You must consult your physician before coming to the Hospital. Physicians are responsible for determining if is appropriate for you to be housed at the hospital for the hurricane event.


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