Categorized | National News

STI Numbers On The Rise Among Youth

People under 25 years of age account for hundreds of new Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) cases in The Bahamas each year and according to STI Coordinator Larrie Williams- Ferguson, driving the spread of these sexually transmitted infections are men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and the unemployed.

“That group is at high risk because quite often if you’re going to have transactional sex the person may not want to use a condom,” she said.

“For example, you want my money, I want the sex and you got to go on my terms and this is one of the reasons why they are at high risk. Men who have sex with men, when we look at the drivers of STIs, reason being the anal mucosa is thin and hence the reason it puts them in a position to pick up infections a whole lot easier than if it was a penis to a vagina but then again they stay within there’re group and (infections) are passed around.”

She added that bisexuals are also vulnerable and contribute to the spread of STIs.

While there has been a decrease in the number of people infected with chlamydia since 2010, Mrs. Ferguson said there has been a significant increase in syphilis infections between year 2010 and 2013.

“We know that for the longest time we have been seeing chlamydia more than any other infection but even though we’re seeing a large number of chlamydia, the cases are going down,” she said.

“However, we are seeing an increase in syphilis and that is the one thing that we are concerned about. Prior to this time, we always found syphilis in the older population but now we still have cases in that population which is a need for concern which tells us that there is a mixing of the two age groups”

She added that there is a fair balance of syphilis infections among men and women across the board.

The Bahama Journal spoke with Mrs. Ferguson during the first annual STD and STI Awareness Symposium at the Ministry of Health on Friday.

During the first stage of syphilis one may get a painless sore at the infection site and swollen lymph nodes and within the second stage, skin rash lasting several months, often on the palms of hands and souls of feet.

The third stage is more life threating and the person may show no signs of symptoms, yet subsequently there can be damage to the internal organs including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

If left untreated, the infection leads to paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, dementia and death.

Penicillin is usually used to treat syphilis.

Ms. Ferguson said education is key to empowering Bahamians towards protecting themselves and that in order to guard oneself from STIs, one must abstain or use protection, get tested regularly and most importantly know your partner because condoms do not protect against everything.

There are at least 25 different STIs which include genital warts, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, HIV and AIDS among others.

STI’s are some of the most common infections around the world and affect people of all ages, races, and sexuality.

The symposium was hosted by the STI unit which brought together medical practitioners as well as a few members from the public who were able to hear from various presenters in the medical field and engage in dialogue.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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