sexually transmitted disease

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Related to Sexual transmission: Sexually transmitted infections, Sti's

sexually transmitted disease

(STD) or

venereal disease,

term for infections acquired mainly through sexual contact. Five diseases were traditionally known as venereal diseases: gonorrheagonorrhea
, common infectious disease caused by a bacterium (Neisseria gonorrhoeae), involving chiefly the mucous membranes of the genitourinary tract. It may occasionally spread to membranes in other parts of the body, especially those of the joints and the eyes.
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, syphilissyphilis
, contagious sexually transmitted disease caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum (described by Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffmann in 1905). Syphilis was not widely recognized until an epidemic in Europe at the end of the 15th cent.
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, and the less common granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, and chancroid. In the 1960s up to 20 other diseases were recognized as being transmitted by sexual contact, and the term "sexually transmitted disease" came into use. Some of the more common of these are AIDSAIDS
or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,
fatal disease caused by a rapidly mutating retrovirus that attacks the immune system and leaves the victim vulnerable to infections, malignancies, and neurological disorders. It was first recognized as a disease in 1981.
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, genital herpes (see herpes simplexherpes simplex
, an acute viral infection of the skin characterized by one or more painful, itching blisters filled with clear fluid. It is caused by either of two herpes simplex viruses: Type 1, herpes labialis,
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), chlamydiachlamydia
, genus of microorganisms that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals. Psittacosis, or parrot fever, caused by the species Chlamydia psittaci, is transmitted to people by birds, particularly parrots, parakeets, and lovebirds.
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, and human papillomavirushuman papillomavirus
(HPV), any of a family of more than 100 viruses that cause various growths, including plantar warts and genital warts, a sexually transmitted disease. Genital warts, sometimes called condylomata acuminata, are soft and often occur in clusters.
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. Other diseases or infestations that can be transmitted sexually include giardiasisgiardiasis
, infection of the small intestine by a protozoan, Giardia lamblia. Giardia, which was named after Alfred M. Giard, a French biologist, is spread via the fecal-oral route, most commonly by eating food contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected
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, amebiasis, scabiesscabies
, highly contagious parasitic skin disease caused by the itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). The disease is also known as itch. It is acquired through close contact with an infested individual or contaminated clothing and is most prevalent among those living in crowded
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, pubic "crab" lice (see louselouse,
common name for members of either of two distinct orders of wingless, parasitic, disease-carrying insects. Lice of both groups are small and flattened with short legs adapted for clinging to the host.
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), hepatitishepatitis
, inflammation of the liver. There are many types of hepatitis. Causes include viruses, toxic chemicals, alcohol consumption, parasites and bacteria, and certain drugs.
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 (A, B, and C), group B streptococcal infections (see streptococcusstreptococcus
, any of a group of gram-positive bacteria, genus Streptococcus, some of which cause disease. Streptococci are spherical and divide by fission, but they remain attached and so grow in beadlike chains.
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), cytomegalovirus infection, and the protozoan infection trichomoniasistrichomoniasis
, sexually transmitted disease caused by the parasitic protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis. In women, it can cause urinary tract infection and a painful, malodorous vaginitis marked by a thin, foamy, irritating discharge.
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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 Calymmatobacterium granulomatis and is common in tropical and subtropical regions. Early lesions appear as painless, red, open sores on the skin of the genital and pelvic regions, succeeded by a spreading ulceration of the tissues. If not treated, the condition becomes chronic and may lead to death through anemia and general debility. Antibiotics such as tetracycline can eliminate the infection.

Lymphogranuloma venereum, also common in tropical and subtropical regions, is caused by a strain of Chlamydia trachomatis, an organism classified as a bacterium but having some viral characteristics. The primary genital lesion is often overlooked. The lymphatic structures about the pelvic and rectal region then become involved; blockage of such structures may cause disfigurement and scarring of external genitals. Fever and headache are other constitutional symptoms. Severe involvement of the rectal mucosa may cause intestinal obstruction or stricture. Tetracycline is the drug of choice, although other antibiotics are effective.

Chancroid is an acute localized infection caused by a bacterium called Hemophilus ducreyi. It can result in painful ulcerations of the skin, usually in the groin. In women symptoms may be absent or limited to painful urination, defecation, or intercourse. Involvement of the lymph nodes occurs in more than half the cases. Usually the disease is self-limited, but it may cause severe destruction of tissue. Antibiotics have been effective in treatment, but resistant strains are an increasing problem.

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, Microbes and Morals (1971); K. L. Jones et al., VD (1974); J. Jacobson, Women's Reproductive Health (1991).

sexually transmitted disease

[′sek·shə·lē trans′mid·əd di′zēz]
An infection acquired and transmitted primarily by sexual contact. Abbreviated STD.
References in periodicals archive ?
The current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines advise that male and female travelers should adopt safer sex practices or consider abstinence to reduce the risk for sexual transmission for 6 months after leaving a country with ongoing Zika virus transmission (35).
Where epidemiology meets biology: primary HIV infection and sexual transmission. The PRN Notebook.
CDC's emergency response to Zika virus rapidly addressed many acute public health needs associated with the outbreak and developed new public health surveillance and infection control tools, including issuing travel and clinical guidance; identifying sexual transmission; monitoring blood safety; developing and distributing laboratory test kits; establishing the causal link between in utero infection and congenital Zika syndrome and assessing the range of outcomes and the magnitude of risk; improving access to contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies; implementing vector control strategies; and improving the understanding of the link between and Zika virus infection and other neurological illnesses.
The new time period for couples to wait to attempt conception when the man has possible Zika exposure but no symptoms are expected to minimize the risk of sexual transmission around the time of conception and prevent possible early fetal exposure to the Zika virus.
Interim advice with regard to sexual transmission of EBOV has been updated recently (14).
The skewing of the distribution of Zika virus disease cases toward women in Brazil was postulated to be because of more exposure to Aedes mosquitoes in the home, more severe symptoms among women in certain age groups, differences in health care-seeking behavior, reporting biases by health care workers, and sexual transmission (7,9).
The clinical trial, which enrolled more than 3,000 women and conducted in Africa and the United States, suggested that PRO 2000 might prevent male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV infection.
According to the Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS, there is an annual increase in the sexual transmission of HIV infection.
This knowledge allows individuals to seek antiretroviral treatment to suppress the virus, which decreases morbidity and mortality while reducing the risk of sexual transmission to others.
A study has found that medication to suppress HIV can prevent sexual transmission of the AIDS virus.
A European study of nearly 1,000 gay male couples who had sex without condoms -- where one partner had HIVand was taking antiretroviral drugs to suppress it -- has found the treatment can prevent sexual transmission of the virus.
Shedding in the female genitourinary tract has not been widely reported and remains a serious question because of the potential for sexual transmission or ascending fetal infection in a pregnant woman (4).