What STDs Can Tell Us About How To Fight Covid

From Politico…

As Covid-19 has rampaged across the United States, government officials have struggled with the basic steps needed to contain the pandemic. Should everyone get tested, or just people with symptoms? Should public health officials require Americans to wear masks or not? What’s the best way to track the infection, particularly in marginalized communities?

For one set of public health experts, the heated debates over testing, wearing masks and contact tracing were eerily familiar — as odd as it might seem, these are similar to arguments that officials and academics working to eradicate sexually transmitted diseases have been having for decades as they’ve worked to bring down the rates of infections like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

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Chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased among younger women, study finds

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are increasing among women ages 18 to 30 in the United States, a recent study by Quest Diagnostics suggests.

The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed more than 17 million laboratory samples taken between 2010 and 2017 from females ages 12 to 30. Researchers found that while there was a decline in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea among adolescents ages 12 to 17, women of ages 25 to 30 experienced a 50% increase in positive test results. Women 18 to 24 had a 21% increase in positive test results over the period of the study.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active women under 25, said Harvey Kaufman, director of Quest’s Health Trends Research Program. For women 25 and older, the CDC recommends screenings only for those with specific risk factors, such as reporting that their sex partner may have a concurrent sex partner. Kaufman, a co-author of the study, said the findings suggest that sexual and contraceptive practices have changed since 2002, when the CDC guidelines were first published.

Kaufman pointed out that the CDC guidelines were largely influenced by a 1998 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the overall rate of chlamydia among female Army recruits was 9.2%. As a result, the authors of the study recommended a screening program for female recruits 25 and under.

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Women’s Health: Facts about Birth Control, STIs and Condoms

From the Society of Behavioral Medicine

A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection that is passed from one person to another through sexual contact (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral). More than 25 STIs have been identified, affecting 20+ million men and women in the U.S. each year.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI, even without having penetrative sex (i.e., vaginal or anal sex). Some STIs, like herpes and HPV, are spread by skin-to-skin contact. Many STIs don’t show symptoms for a long time. Even without the presence of symptoms, they can still be harmful and passed between partners during sex (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral).

STIs occur in all parts of the population.

Young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 account for nearly half of all new STIs infections each year.

Racial and ethnic minority groups are experiencing significant increases in STI rates. In 2017, the rate of reported cases of Chlamydia among Black females was five times the rate of White females and 6.6 times greater in Black males than White males.

STI rates have significantly increased within the LGBTQIA+ community. A 2018 CDC report states Gonorrhea diagnoses nearly doubled between 2013-2018 in gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Data from 2018 indicate that gay and bisexual men accounted for 54% of all syphilis cases.

People 60+ account for the largest increase of in-office STI treatment. Between 2014-2017, rates for Herpes simplex, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Trichomoniasis, and Chlamydia rose 23% in this population.

Women who are pregnant can become infected with the same STDs as women who are not pregnant.

Fact: Oral contraceptives (birth control) cannot prevent an STI.

A common myth is that birth controls can prevent the spread of STIs. Two of the most common forms of birth controls are oral contraceptives and condoms. Many people may not use condoms because they are using another form of birth control, and feel they are safe from STIs.

Oral contraception is only effective in preventing pregnancy and cannot stop STIs from being passed between sexual partners.

Fact: Condoms can prevent an STI.

Correctly using male and female condoms can help prevent the spread of STIs and help prevent pregnancy. Dental dams, a barrier method for oral sex, can also help prevent STIs when used correctly. Most condoms and dental dams are made from latex or polyurethane, which may be preferable for individuals with a latex allergy.

Read the full article on Society of Behavioral Medicine.

STDs are sexist

From CNN

America is in the middle of an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, and when it comes to heterosexual transmission, it’s hitting women the hardest. Why is that?

Simply put, because “STDs are biologically and psycho-socially sexist at all levels,” said Dr. Hunter Handsfield, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD who has studied sexually transmitted diseases for 40 years.

“Women bear the largest burden of these diseases,” agreed Dr. Edward Hook, co-director of the Center for Social Medicine and Sexually Transmitted Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Chlamydia and gonorrhea, for example, are two of the leading preventable causes of infertility and ectopic pregnancies in the United States, and on Earth.”

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Sex and COVID-19

It may seem obvious that if a person is infected with COVID-19, they risk infecting others during sex. But people still have a lot of questions. Here’s an excerpt on the topic form the Mayo Clinic Website:

The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can be inhaled or land in the mouth or nose of a person nearby. Coming into contact with a person’s spit through kissing or other sexual activities could expose you to the virus. People who have COVID-19 could also spread respiratory droplets onto their skin and personal belongings. A sexual partner could get the virus by touching these surfaces and then touching his or her mouth, nose or eyes. In addition, the COVID-19 virus can spread through contact with feces. It’s possible that you could get the COVID-19 virus from sexual activities that expose you to fecal matter.

There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but the virus has been detected in the semen of people who have or are recovering from the virus. Further research is needed to determine if the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted sexually.

Since some people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, it’s important to keep distance between yourself and others if the COVID-19 virus is spreading in your community. This includes avoiding sexual contact with anybody who doesn’t live with you. If you or your partner isn’t feeling well or think you might have COVID-19, don’t kiss or have sex with each other until you’re both feeling better. Also, if you or your partner is at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19 due to an existing chronic condition, you might want to avoid sex.

In case that wasn’t clear, The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), in partnership with National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), released a frequently asked questions resource regarding sex and COVID-19. In short, if you’re in the same room with someone who has the virus, you can get infected–sex or no sex.

If you have questions about getting tested, talk to your doctor or health care provider. You can also find testing in your area via a Google search. In Pennsylvania, call the Health Department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

STIs During Pregnancy: Knowing The Signs & Risks

From Babygaga.com

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) pose a serious risk to the health of an expecting woman’s pregnancy, particularly if left untreated. Luckily, most STIs are caught at the first prenatal screening, as the doctor will test for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, chlamydia, and syphilis, as many STIs go untreated if a woman isn’t showing symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend testing for gonorrhea or hepatitis C during if you have been promiscuous prior to or during pregnancy. If a woman is sexually active throughout her pregnancy, particularly if she has multiple partners, then she runs the risk of contracting an STI. The later the trimester, the more harmful an STI can be to the pregnancy.

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STD RATES LIKELY SKYROCKETING IN US AS FEWER PEOPLE GET TESTED DURING PANDEMIC

As clinics and health departments across the country have shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s roughly 2,200 disease detectives, the so-called “contact tracers” of infectious disease outbreaks, have been re-deployed to track where cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — are spreading, to try to stop those outbreaks in their tracks. It’s a necessary shift, but one that may have serious, long-term impacts for the country’s sexual health, and for President Trump’s year-and-a-half-old plan to “eliminate” HIV from the US by 2030.decorative image

click to find nearby HIV and STD testing

 

[…] According to a recent NCSD survey of HIV and STD disease tracers around the country, 83% are forgoing their usual field visits as a result of this pandemic. Two-thirds of the country’s clinics (66%) have also reported decreases in health screenings and testing due to COVID-19.

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Self-obtained samples show similar performance as lab diagnostics for gonorrhea, chlamydia testing

From Helio.com...

Vaginal swab samples collected by patients performed similarly to lab-based molecular diagnostics for chlamydia and gonorrhea testing, therefore supporting the use of a new 30-minute point-of-case assay, according to findings published in JAMA Network Open.

Barbara Van Der Pol, PhD, MPH
Barbara Van Der Pol, PhD, MPH

“The new binx io CT/NG assay can facilitate a complete paradigm shift in how we offer testing for the two most commonly reported notifiable diseases in the United States — chlamydia and gonorrhea,” Barbara Van Der Pol, PhD, MPH, professor of medicine and public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and president of the American STD Association, told Healio. “Rates of infection with chlamydia and gonorrhea continue to rise, suggesting the need for additional tools in order to effectively reduce the burden of disease. Providers can now identify and treat infections (that are predominately asymptomatic) during a single office visit to prevent transmission and development of sequelea.”

[…] “Sample-first collection by clients seeking sexual health care (or who are eligible for routine screening according to the CDC guidelines) immediately upon arrival at the clinic can enable rapid, accurate results that allow the provider to offer both accurate treatment and appropriate counseling,” Van Der Pol said. “This is the first truly rapid molecular assay for chlamydia and gonorrhea. It is a breakthrough development.”

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Why Are More Women Choosing To Get An IUD As A Form Of Birth Control?

From babygaga.com

Dr. Margaret Dufreney of New Jersey discusses why more women are choosing IUDs over other forms of birth control.

When it comes to birth control, women have a lot more choices to pick from than they realize. Most women begin with taking oral contraceptives, or the pill, because it is easy to take. However, not all oral contraceptives agree with every woman’s body or hectic schedules. Because of this, more women in today’s society are choosing to use an Intrauterine Device (IUD) for their birth control. IUDs have wonderful benefits, but there are inherent risks involved as well.

An IUD is literally a T-shaped device that is placed in a woman’s uterus. Depending on the type of IUD, it will block an egg from attaching to the uterine wall or it will use hormones to prevent a woman from ovulating. Surprisingly, IUDs have been available to women just as long as oral contraceptives. But in the 1970s, IUDs became discouraged because one type was made with an “ill designed removal string that funneled bacteria into the uterus”. After some serious developing, IUDs were back on the market by 1988 and are completely safe to use as birth control today.

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DETECTABLE VIRAL LOAD TIED TO UPTICK IN HEART DISEASE RISK IN YOUTH WITH HIV

Among young people living with HIV, having a detectable viral load is associated with a slight increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sitaji Gurung, MD, PhD, MPH, of Hunter College at the City University of New York, presented findings from a study of HIV-positive youth 14 to 26 years old at the 2020 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston last month.

The study relied on electronic health records from the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network 154 Cascade Monitoring, which derives its data from clinics across the United States that care for adolescents with HIV.

Read the full article on Poz.com.