Getting the Facts from Dr. Amin Sharobim
By Hilary Diack
According to leading dermatologist and venereologist Dr. Amin Sharobim, each day brings new STD and STI cases to his busy clinic. Cairo West Magazine explores this sensitive topic with him.
CWM: Dr. Amin, what is an STD?
AS: An STD is a disease or an infection (STI) that is contracted through unprotected sexual contact of any type.
Which are the most common STDs encountered these days?
The most prevalent these days are HPV (Human Papillomavirus), HSV (Herpes), chlamydia, trichomoniasis and increasingly, cases of gonorrhoea and even syphilis, which had previously been considered on the decline.
HPV, or genital warts, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI). HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
The herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV, is an infection that causes herpes. Herpes can appear in various parts of the body, most commonly on the genitals or mouth.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis and can be cured with antibiotics.
Trichomoniasis is a common STI that is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. Most patients are treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole, which is very effective.
Gonorrhoea is caused by bacterium with symptoms that usually appear 2 to 5 days after contact with an infected partner however; some men might not notice symptoms for up to a month. There are some antibiotic resistant strains for gonorrhoea but most cases can be cured with antibiotics.
Syphilis is an STD caused by a bacterium. Untreated, it can lead to complications and death.
What are the first symptoms to appear and are STDs and STIs easy to identify?
If genital warts show up, it’s an indication of HPV infection.
With HSV some of the symptoms associated with this virus include blistering sores in the mouth or on the genitals, pain during urination (genital herpes) and itching.
Gonorrhoea symptoms in men include burning and pain while urinating, increased urinary frequency, discharge from the penis (white, green, or yellow in color), red or swollen urethra, swollen or tender testicles, or sore throat. Symptoms in women may include vaginal discharge, burning or itching while urinating, painful sexual intercourse and severe pain in the lower abdomen.
When should a person go for a check-up?
Early identification and treatment results in less chance to spread disease, and for some conditions may improve the outcome of treatment. It is important to note any discharge, reddening or discomfort of the genitals.
What treatments are available for STIs and STDs?
STIs caused by bacteria are generally easier to treat. Viral infections can be managed but not always cured. Antibiotics, often in a single dose, can cure many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections, including gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis.
How can people avoid contracting an STD or STI?
The first and most important way to avoid STDs and STIs is to stay in a mutually monogamous relationship. Healthcare professionals suggest safer sex such as the use of condoms as the most reliable way of decreasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
To lower the chances of getting HPV, a person at risk should get vaccinated. Gardasil, a recombinant human papillomavirus vaccine, is now available in Egypt and should be used by anyone who is considered at risk.