Prevalence of STDs

Editorial April 16, 2010

A report in this newspaper on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in parts of Sindh makes for worrying reading.

It quotes a survey conducted by a hospital and the results suggest that the most prevalent form of STD is gonorrhoea, contracted in most cases by male respondents. What, however, is the utility of such a survey regarding public health indicators? Normally the results should be used to enact a mechanism which can reduce the occurrence of said disease.

Essentially, the 2 major problems in such medical cases are that medicines are not properly administered or that at-risk groups do not use, or are unaware of, preventative methods. Healthcare practitioners need to inform their patients how to properly use such medicines. This needs to be supplemented with a public awareness campaign so that people in general become aware of their existence and can recogise symptoms.

The last point is particularly important because late detection can cause infertility in both men and women. And in case a mother becomes infected, there is a risk of the child being born blind. Of course, in these situations, issues of cultural sensitivity and taboo come in.

The fact however is that such things should be seen for what they are: medicallytreatable diseases, and moral judgment should not be passed on their occurrence.

We should face the reality instead of hiding it under the carpet because the people who contract such diseases deserve treatment, not moral outrage and condemnation.

Muslim countries like Iran and Bangladesh have schemes which tackle the incidence of STDs among the general population and there is no reason why these cannot be replicated here, while keeping in mind local sensitivities and customs.


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