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Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes Oh My!

By RACHELLE JEANTY
On October 24, 2011

When 30,009 students took a survey in 2010 about if they always use condoms in the past 30 days, they found out about 88% of college students didn't always use a condom. According to the National College 2010 Health Assessment.

 

The main STD that is on the rise and found mostly on the UB campus is Chlamydia (caused by a bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis that can cause damage towards the female reproductive organs). Currently the highest STD recorded, it's coming up more frequently here in Connecticut and across the US. According to the website, in 2009, 1,244,180 Chlamydia infections were reported to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) from the 50 states and the District of Columbia."

 

"What is most worrisome for college students, especially at UB, is Chlamydia because there's many students or persons, ages 18 to 24, who are coming down with Chlamydia," Dr. Melissa Lopez, Director of Health Services at UB said.

 

Another worry currently is around the STD Gonorrhea. Scientists have watched Gonorrhea over the past decades, recently labeled it a ‘superbug' (a bacterium with the ability to survive exposure to antibiotics). With 700,000 cases recorded yearly, Gonorrhea has become the second highest reported infectious disease. Not many people know but the infection has had a long history of being curable but then finding incurable strands because of its ability to adapt and resistant antibiotics.

Back in the 1930's, in order to cure Gonorrhea, doctors would use sulfa-based drugs to eliminate the infection but in due time it lost potency and was able to resist the antibiotics. Luckily, scientists discovered Penicillin (broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs used for treatment of various infections and diseases) and it became ‘a breakthrough miracle' towards curing Gonorrhea. Scientists knew the possibility that one day Gonorrhea could adapt to Penicillin leaving them to find yet another cure. Fast-forward eighty years and the antibiotic is becoming weak against strands of this adaptable infection.

 

Recently, scientists have been raising awareness about these incurable strands. Gonorrhea was recently dubbed the "Strongest living organism in the biological realm." In past years, Gonorrhea cases were decreasing; reported cases dropped 17.4% in 2009 but just recently new cases of untreated Gonorrhea has been found in parts of Canada, Japan, the UK and the US making doctors worry that untreated cases without new treatments could rise bringing on an outbreak of numerous cases. For those strands that are coming up untreatable, doctors are recommending two treatments towards curing Gonorrhea. They are watching the stands that are resistant to the antibiotics closely and researching more treatment options.

 

Another STD that has been recorded on the UB campus is Herpes. Herpes (or genital herpes) is an STD caused by Herpes complex simplex virus's part 1 or type 2 and typically minimum or no symptoms are shown.  Transmitted through sexual intercourse, the only sign is one or two blisters that can appear on the genitals or rectum as well as ulcers over time. One out of six people get herpes but it's been stable over the past decade. There is no cure for herpes but there are antibiotics to shorten/prevent outbreaks.

 

The main groups who are mainly affected are active teens, young adults and African Americans. Cases of men having sex with men that have Gonorrhea is raising as well.

 

"People affected with Gonorrhea are also three times more likely to become infected with HIV should they come in contact with the virus," according to Brian Alexander, writer for msn.com.

 

The hardest part about trying to cure Gonorrhea is the fact that many that are affected don't show symptoms; sometimes the symptoms are mild or not noticeable. It might take years for someone to recognize symptoms.

 

For females, symptoms are pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding between periods and possible causes of infertility for both sexes. For males, some don't show any symptoms at all, others do show symptoms, for example: burning urination or painful testacies. Females should be getting screenings of Gonorrhea annually and more frequently if they engage in a lot of sexual activity. Luckily, Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.

 

If a student on campus feels that they should get tested, the UB Health services office is a great place to go. They have free condoms at the office and at their events. They provide free Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Chlamydia testing as well as free treatments if positive.  They also assist with partner notification (telling the sexual partner that they might be affected) for free and all services are confidential.

 

For more information on testing, students can contact the Health Services office at (203) 576-4712.


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