sexually transmitted disease
STDs are generally graver in women, in whom diagnosis is often more difficult and treatment less available than for men; untreated they can lead to infertility or cause miscarriage, premature birth, or infection of the newborn. In some instances two or more infections may be present concurrently. The spread of sexually transmitted AIDS increased dramatically during the 1980s and continued through the 1990s. Other STDs are often seen in tandem with AIDS, partly because open sores that they produce can provide an easy route for the AIDS virus to enter the body. In the 2007 it was estimated that 19 million new cases of STDs were contracted in the United States each year.
Granuloma inguinale is caused by
Lymphogranuloma venereum, also common in tropical and subtropical regions, is caused by a strain of
Chancroid is an acute localized infection caused by a bacterium called
In order to reduce ignorance and thereby decrease the risk of venereal infection, the U.S. government just before and after World War II encouraged publicity on the matter, for the taboo long associated with public discussion of these contagious diseases had given rise to serious public-health problems. A nationwide campaign was initiated in 1937 by Thomas Parran, then serving as U.S. surgeon general, to educate the public about the incidence, cause, and cure of venereal diseases. As a result, the number of new cases in the United States steadily declined each year until the 1950s, when a rise was noted, especially among teenagers and young adults. In 1998, concerned by high U.S. rates of such common STDs as human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and chlamydia, as well as local outbreaks of syphilis and gonorrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a new far-reaching campaign to combat STDs.
Public authorities and private agencies coordinate their efforts to identify and isolate promptly all sources of infection. Worldwide, despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, the incidence of STDs has continued to rise and has reached epidemic proportions in many countries. Among the factors believed responsible for increases are changes in sexual behavior (e.g., the use of oral contraceptives), the emergence of drug-resistant strains, symptomless carriers, a highly mobile population, lack of public education, and the reluctance of patients to seek treatment.
See T. Rosebury,
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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