Sex is a normal part of human life, and it’s necessary for procreation and the continuance of our race–but sex is risky business. In the United States alone, nearly 70 million Americans have some form of sexually-transmitted disease. An estimated one out of four people will be infected in their lifetimes, and most of them will contract an STD before the age of 25. Here are five of the most common and infectious STDs in the world today.
In the United States, there is no STD more common than chlamydia. Unfortunately, many people who contract the disease never show any symptoms at all. According to statistics, nearly 3/4 of the women who have it don’t know it compared to 1/2 of all men who are infected. This stealthy infection can be very detrimental to female health as it can cause sudden infertility. In fact, out of all infertile women, about 1/5 became infertile as a result of getting chlamydia. Like with most common STDs, the bulk of cases occur in teenagers.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common and fastest spreading STDs in the world. While it is not particularly dangerous, gonorrhea can cause body pains and infertility in both males and female victims. Women seem to be more prone to infection than men, but they are also more likely to exhibit no negative symptoms compared to males. In the US, over a million new cases of gonorrhea are reported every year, but infection rates are even higher in other parts of the planet. Those with the disease are at quadruple the risk for catching HIV.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is what causes genital warts in affected individuals. These masses can be painful and uncomfortable because they can cause a prolonged burning sensation. In addition to genital warts, HPV can lead to cancer of the genitals and internal reproductive organs if it doesn’t go away quickly. Luckily, most HPV infections do not cause any symptoms at all. Although there is no medical cure for HPV, the infection generally goes away over time. Still, the disease is so prevalent that it is believed that half of all men and women who regularly participate in sexual intercourse will contract it at least once in their lifetimes. Today, more than 25 million individuals have HPV, and that number continues to rise.
This sexually-transmitted infection spreads at very high rates in various countries around the world. In the US, the number of syphilis cases increased by nearly 15% in the mid-2000s. Today, more than 50,000 cases of syphilis pop up each year, but the real numbers are probably far higher than what is reported. Syphilis is one of the more dangerous STDs out there because it can cause serious organ damage over many years, possibly leading to death. While the disease is far more easily contracted by men, pregnant women have the most to worry about. Syphilis can cause miscarriage, and one out of every thousand surviving infants is infected at birth.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
While its spread is well under control in the United States, HIV continues to be transmitted at alarming rates in third-world countries. African and Southeast Asian peoples are at the highest risk of becoming infected with this precursor to AIDS. AIDS is a deadly disease that cripples the immune system to leave victims defenseless against all forms of infection. Nearly all AIDS victims die before reaching 50 years of age, and most of them contract HIV during early adulthood. Contrary to popular belief, nearly every case of HIV infection has occurred between heterosexual partners. Sadly, HIV affects the lives of more than 30 million individuals globally, and it infects at least 15,000 more on a daily basis.
Author Byline: Della White is a contributing writer at MPHonline.org.