Your romantic relationship - whether it’s a commitment, a marriage, long-term or short-term – is an important part of your life. That’s why it’s important to protect it and care for your partner/s as you would like to be cared for. Ultimately, protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an act of love, not one of inconvenience. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What is an STI?
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is passed from an infected person to another, through unprotected sexual or genital contact. Left untreated, some STIs can become a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STIs can be bacterial or viral, and many people miss the fact that they are even infected, because many STIs do not have apparent, or easily recognisable symptoms. Bacterial STIs can be cured with antibiotics, while viral STIs cannot be cured, but you can be treated for the symptoms. If you’re not sure of your sexual health status, pop in to your doctor for a check-up or to your clinic to get tested.
How can I prevent infection?
There are many ways to prevent an STI, but they all begin long before you head to the bedroom. Talking to your partner about condom use is important, as condoms are a key barrier method that reduce the chance of you becoming infected. The South African National Department of Health has gone to great lengths to curb STI infection among citizens and, just recently, expanded the range of free condoms available from public health facilities. Check out this video from TimesLive that charts our government’s condom distribution programme over the years. Female condoms are also available and, in 2016, the City of Cape Town Health Directorate noted a significant uptick in their usage.
Vaccinations for STIs
One of the most common STIs is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and great gains have been made in preventing infections in recent times. HPV is the virus most often responsible for certain types of warts and cancers, but a recently implemented vaccine is helping to prevent further infections. Now part of the South African National Department of Health’s vaccination programme, the HPV vaccine is administered through the school health programme, for free. While it is not compulsory to have your child vaccinated, it is recommended, as this is an important tool in the fight, specifically, against cervical cancer, in South Africa. Cervical cancer affects 1 in every 41 South African women, so a protection tool like the HPV vaccine is a key implement in our health care toolbox. While this vaccine is being offered free to schoolgirls in Grade 4, women who wish to receive it can do so privately too. It is administered in two doses, and you can enquire at your local clinic, pharmacy or ask your doctor for information relating to the vaccine.
LifeDoc Can Help
LifeDoc™ is here to help. Now available for download as an Android app (with iOS coming soon!), LifeDoc™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, while making it easier to keep track of appointments, schedule those check-ups and securely store your personal health records. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.