Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common health problem in modern society. Some of the common STDs are Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 1 and 2, Hepatitis B and C. Some of these diseases have been prevailing for a long time while the others have gained importance more recently.
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The prevalence is higher than what is seen. The main problem is that people are still not comfortable with discussing these matters in public. This has led to the more vulnerable parts of the population like women and teenagers to have a limited understanding of the importance of knowing how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
A good example is a study done by a group of researchers headed by Hossain, in Bangladesh in 2011. Here they have studied 10,996 women in six divisions in Bangladesh and evaluated their knowledge and awareness on STDs. Their findings were published in 2014 and what they found was that the awareness was significantly affected by certain factors such as geographical location, whether rural or urban, age, education level, whether they listened to the radio, or watched television. (Hossain, Mani, Sidik, Shahar, & Islam, 2014)
The above study was a serious wakeup call to any health practitioner who is involved in the preventive role in association with STDs. The study showed older women in more rural areas with limited formal education and limited access to mass media had the least knowledge on STDs. This information can be used when planning awareness campaigns, to educate people in the more remote parts of the country. The mass media has a main role to play in educating people on the spread and the prevention of STDs.
Women are mostly considered victims of STDs as they get contacted through their legal partners. Men have a high tendency to associate with commercial sex workers, who in turn have the highest chances of having STDs. The knowledge among females, therefore, is very much important in preventing the spread of STDs as well as protecting themselves from getting infected.
A nurse’s role in preventing the spread of STDs mainly comes down to educating the community in which they serve. Nurses are a first contact person in most healthcare setups and they have a direct approach to openly discuss the healthcare problems of the people they come across. STDs being a hidden entity in the healthcare system may cause many to have unanswered questions. These areas can be addressed and resolved by a nurse.
The role of a nurse is not only limited to prevention but also to manage STDs. The main challenge is to make people seek healthcare when they think they have an STD. Another part of the challenge is to make the patients continue the treatment. Many people do not seek medical help until a very later stage. At the same time, another group of people may drop out of treatment due to various reasons. A nurse can actively be involved in this process to keep the patients go through the full course of medical treatment.
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In another study published in 2013, the association of the STDs and the sexual practices were tested. 7,296 women aged 24 – 32 years took part in this study. The study was aimed to find out the STD prevalence among sexual minority groups in the USA. The study showed the women having 2 or more female partners had more chance of getting STDs than ones with only one male partner. (Lindley, Walsemann, & Carter, 2013)
This study is evidence that sexual practices have a direct role in the prevalence of STDs. Therefore, the prevention methods must focus on the careful observations of finding out the sexual orientation. This can be easily done by a nurse, who is generally considered a more approachable person than most other healthcare workers. Especially the female nurses will have a better chance of approaching women, who may hide vital details from a male interviewer.
Male homosexuality and STD risk are more deeply studied. But it is equally important that the female homosexual practices are looked at and addressed in the STD prevention campaigns. The chances are that female homosexuality is overlooked in comparison to male homosexuality.
The knowledge of STDs differs from country to country. A 2014 study was carried out among Latino adolescents in the USA and the Dominican Republic. 242 US students and 122 Dominica Republic students took part in this study. And they were aged 13 – 18 years with a mean age of 15. (Brito, Davis, & Chakrabarti, 2014)
This study revealed that the male students and those who were sexually active had more risk of STDs. At the same time, girls and those from the Dominican Republic had better knowledge of STDs. This study brings out a few important facts. As much as 40% of the adolescents were admitting that they were sexually active. And the knowledge on STDs and its prevention is still lacking. Education should start from an early age and health support should be freely available.
The education systems of most countries do not directly approach STD prevention. The social stigmata prevent the teachers from openly discussing these matters in the classroom. Some may feel those things can wait up to the college level. But it is quite evident that the sexual activities are started at a much earlier age. Adolescents are especially vulnerable as they will seek to experiment more on their sexuality, falling prey to those who are already having STDs.
So far we have discussed the STD knowledge in females and adolescents. So what about the males?
A study was published in 2017, by a group of Chinese researchers on the treatment-seeking behavior among homosexual men. (It is common knowledge that homosexuals are more vulnerable to STDs than heterosexuals.) 4,496 men took part in this research. The blood samples were taken and screened for HIV, Syphilis, and HSV-2. (Xu et al., 2017)
The results of this study were alarming. Among the suspected STD infected individuals, only 35.7% sought medical treatment. This was worse among the low-income groups. This is a clear indication that men are at higher risk and the negligence of the STDs is going to cause serious harm in the long run.
These are some of the studies done on the STDs over the past years. In recent times, more and more interest has been shown to study these diseases. The STDs are hard to cure and the more focus should be on prevention. It is important that the general public has more awareness of prevention and how these diseases are transmitted. As the Chinese study on homosexual men pointed out, society should be educated to seek out medical help in case of contracting an STD.
Adding a final word, the challenge of limiting and preventing STDs is upon the healthcare system of the modern world. It is a huge burden than what is superficially seen. The role of a nurse in battling the STDs is large. It partly involves in the management of STD patients and at the same time involves preventing at a community level. Unless tackled at an early stage, STDs can lead to a major health problem in the coming years, especially with the more liberal approach to sexual practices and homosexuality in modern society.
Brito, M. O., Davis, M., & Chakrabarti, A. (2014). A cross-national study to compare the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions of sexually transmitted diseases and the sexual risk behaviors of Latino adolescents. Int J Adolesc Med Health, 26(2), 203-208. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2013-0509
Hossain, M., Mani, K. K., Sidik, S. M., Shahar, H. K., & Islam, R. (2014). Knowledge and awareness about STDs among women in Bangladesh. BMC Public Health, 14, 775. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-775
Lindley, L. L., Walsemann, K. M., & Carter, J. W., Jr. (2013). Invisible and at risk: STDs among young adult sexual minority women in the United States. Perspect Sex Reprod Health, 45(2), 66-73. doi: 10.1363/4506613
Xu, J. J., Yu, Y. Q., Hu, Q. H., Yan, H. J., Wang, Z., Lu, L.,… Shang, H. (2017). Treatment-seeking behaviour and barriers to service access for sexually transmitted diseases among men who have sex with men in China: a multicentre cross-sectional survey. Infect Dis Poverty, 6(1), 15. doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0219-5
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Synthesis Table Templates
|Level I: Systematic review or meta-analysis||+||+|
|Level II: Randomized controlled trial|
|Level III: Controlled trial without randomization|
|Level IV: Case-control or cohort study|
|Level V: Systematic review of qualitative or |
|Level VI: Qualitative or descriptive study |
(includes evidence implementation
|Level VII: Expert opinion or consensus|
|Interventions||cross-sectional study||multivariate logistic regression analyses||survey||multicentre cross-sectional study|
|1 Hossain, Mani, Sidik, Shahar, & Islam (2014)||The authors used a cross-sectional study to check their hypotheses.||10,996 women in six divisions in Bangladesh were included in sample. The sample was collected from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS).||The awareness of STDs was significantly affected by certain factors such as geographical location, whether rural or urban, age, education level, whether they listened to radio or watched television.|
|2 Lindley, Walsemann, & Carter, (2013)||The applied multivariate logistic regression analyses focused on the two measures of sexual orientation, namely, sexual identity and gender of sex partners.||7,296 women aged 24 – 32 years took part in this study.||The study reflects that women having two or more female partners had more chance of getting STDs than ones with only one male partner.|
|3 Brito, Davis, & Chakrabarti (2014)||The method of survey was used to study the topic, and the questionnaire focused on sources of STD information, risk behaviors, HIV rates, etc.||242 US students and 122 Dominica Republic students aged between 13 and 18 years were involved in this study.||It was detected that male students and those who were sexually active had more risk of STDs. Even though girls and those from Dominican Republic showed better awareness of STDs, there is still the lack of knowledge.|
|4 Xu et al. (2017)||The authors used multicentre cross-sectional study. The respondents completed interview-questionnaire and provided venous blood samples.||4 496 participants from 7 Chinese cities provided their data.||Among the potentially infected individuals, only 35.7% sought medical treatment. Among the participants, who completed this survey, 24.4% (1 096/4 496) were identified as suspected STD-infected. Such factors as low-income, the lack of proper knowledge of STDs, obvious symptoms, etc. Increase risks.|