Sexual Diseases Expert raises concern on socio-economic consequences of STIs

STIs are largely preventable despite the burdens, costs and complications yet remain a significant public health problem.

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Dr Kema Onu, Site Coordinator, Aids HealthCare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, said untreated Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) could lead to a long-term health and socio-economic consequences in adolescent girls and young women.

Onu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that STIs refer to more than 25 infectious organisms transmitted primarily through sexual activities.

He said STIs are largely preventable despite the burdens, costs and complications yet remain a significant public health problem in Nigeria due to ignorance, poverty and stigmatisation.

According to him, teenagers and young women were more prone to STIs because of the anatomy of their open vagina.

Onu explained that the skin that lines the vagina of a young girl was not as strong as that of a matured woman and early exposure to sexual activities could bruise the fragile skin and infections spread faster.

“Teenagers and young women presents STI such as HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, among others, early clinically while there are delay presentation in men.

“This however can affect her ability to conceive, encounter embarrassing situation because poorly treated STIs could block the tubes and further lead to social neglect.

“Some women smell and constantly use pads due to discharge from the vagina which is caused by repeated infection contracted from their partners or spouses.

“Husbands also abandon infertile wives, become violent and even divorce them due to the financial burden involved in treatment,’’ he said.

Onu stated that such challenges were largely unrecognised by the public and some healthcare facilities, adding that STIs causes many harmful, often irreversible, and costly clinical complications.

Such complications, he said, include reproductive health problems, foetal and perinatal health problems, cancer and facilitation of sexual transmission of HIV infection.

He said education, sensitisation and prevention was essentially the primary care strategy for improving reproductive health.

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