Sexually transmitted infections (STI)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a national problem of Ukrainian healthcare. According to the MOH, about 400 thousand new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydiosis, herpes, urogenital mycoplasmosis, genital moniliasis, and trichomoniasis are registered every year.

The problem of STIs cannot be separated from HIV/AIDS epidemics in Ukraine, for one of the main ways of HIV transmission is the sexual one.

STIs, whose pathogens include over 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites, are usually transmitted as a result of sexual contacts, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Some STIs may be transmitted through skin sexual contact. Microorganisms causing STIs may also be transmitted in the course of blood product transfusion and tissue transplantation. Many STIs, including  chlamydiosis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV, HPV, HSV-2, and syphilis may be transmitted from the mother to the child during pregnancy and childbearing.

A person may have STIs without any manifest symptoms. Therefore, the term "sexually transmitted infection" is broader than the term "sexually transmitted disease" (STD). General symptoms of STDs include vaginal discharge, urethral discharge in men, genital ulcers, and abdominal pain.

The highest incidence is connected with eight out of over 30 known pathogens that are transmitted in the course of sexual contacts. Today, 4 out of 8 of these infections can be treated. These are syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydiosis, and trichomoniasis. The other four, such as hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, and HPV are viral diseases that cannot be cured, but treatment may decrease their influence.

According to the results of research, the presence of STIs significantly increases the risk of sexual transmission and contagion of HIV. In particular, syphilis, genital herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydiosis, trichomoniasis, candidiasis, mycoplasmosis, and other venereal diseases facilitate HIV transmission. Erosions and ulcers, inflammations, and tissue damage caused by STIs weaken the organism's protection against HIV contagion.

More information about treatment and prevention of STIs can be found in this chapter.