Sex education:

What you would like and should know about sexually transmitted infections

STDs: Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, papilloma, HPV, syphilis and HIV. Led by Professor Marco Cusini, we offer the basic test information to learn about the five sexually transmitted infections with the highest STD testing incidences are among young people. With the request, in any case, to go to the doctor when you have the slightest doubt: «Being afraid of taking a test is absurd. You have to be afraid not to do it.”

No, this is not your average STD test article about unprotected sex. We’re sure you’re now very knowledgeable on the topic. In recent years, there has been a notable increase in venereal diseases, particularly among young people. When discussing “sexually transmitted” infections, we refer to all the pathologies that individuals can contract during sexual intercourse.

What you may not know from tests is that most of these HPV infections can be transmitted even without complete intercourse. So, we offer you a guide. Thanks to Professor Marco Cusini, head of the STD centre—Sexually Transmitted Diseases—of the Milan Polyclinic, we have selected all the necessary information to avoid unnecessary risks. Many diseases have no symptoms; this article can help you prevent and recognise them.

The problem of symptomatology

One major challenge in halting the spread of sexually transmitted infections is the difficulty in recognising symptoms. Tests show us that Diseases like chlamydia, HIV, and papillomaviruses can be asymptomatic or take a long time to show symptoms. However, contagion doesn’t happen automatically. It occurs only when a genital organ comes into contact with another person’s mucous organ, even if the infection hasn’t shown symptoms yet.

The infection is different for everyone.

The list of sexually transmitted infections is very long. Syphilis or the papillomavirus HPV are almost exclusively transmitted sexually, while candida is occasionally transmitted during sex but is not a sexual pathogen.

Infectious agents: viruses

There are essentially four viruses responsible for the main venereal diseases. The first, the best known, HIV (which is different from AIDS, but we’ll talk about it later). Then there is HPV, the human papillomavirus, the herpes simplex virus, which is not necessarily a sexual pathogen, and the molluscum contagiosum virus.

Infectious agents: bacteria

The main bacteria is treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis. Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Responsible for gonorrhoea. Chlamydia trachomatis which, in addition to causing chlamydia, in some cases can lead to the formation of venereal lymphogranuloma.

Finally, we have mycoplasma genitalium, which is increasingly important from a medical point of view because, together with Neisseria gonorrhoea, it is becoming a superbug, a bacterium increasingly resistant to antibiotic therapies.

Pay attention to these five diseases.

“More than nine out of 10 kids seek HIV testing at hospital centres,” Professor Cusini notes. “However, four other infections have a much higher transmission rate. Syphilis, for instance, is transmitted from a sick individual to a healthy one once in two.”

There is almost a 100% possibility of transmission for gonorrhoea. The percentage of the papillomavirus is equally high. Finally, chlamydia has a 40% chance of transmission.” And HIV? «HIV is transmitted less; the percentage is one in a hundred.»

Incubation

Males are generally luckier than females when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases like HPV. The reason is that “in men, the STD symptoms are more present and therefore it is possible to intervene earlier without the infection causing permanent damage”.

However, the essential thing is prevention and regular tests because “the sooner you realise you are infected, the sooner the chain of contagion that puts everyone’s health at risk is broken”.

Avis and ISS survey on sexually transmitted infections: parents less informed than their children

“This year, the title of the volunteering festival is ‘Mettiamoci Scomodi,'” Francesco Marchionni provocatively asked on the phone with DonatoriH24. He shared previews of the Avis survey “Head or heart? When a conscious choice can change your life,” which will be presented tomorrow (Saturday, May 12) in Lucca.

President Alberto Argentina also spoke about it recently. Marchionni, aged 29 and with a determination worthy of a first-time volunteer, mentioned, “I started when I was 18.” He was the Coordinator of the Avis Youth Council when the research project on awareness of the modes of transmission of sexual diseases began. “I have followed it in all its steps up to today together with Alice Simonetti,” he says. “Today, we have an even more complete picture than the one we presented last year during our general assembly.

There is still a lot of superficiality in the approach to sexually transmitted diseases. This is due to both incorrect behaviour and the spread of scientifically false information online. In any case, the survey carried out together with the AIDS Operations Center of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità helps, first of all, to understand the STD awareness situation. It also aims to increase awareness, not only among the youngest but also among all individuals, that to be a blood donor, it is also necessary to maintain a responsible lifestyle.

Revealing Myths and Misconceptions: A Closer Look at Education

The latest data, released tomorrow, promises to dispel several STD myths surrounding sexual health. Among them, two surprising revelations emerge. Despite assumptions, the most uninformed individuals about the transmission of sexual diseases are not young people aged 18-24. Instead, it is their parents, with a staggering 74% overall uninformed rate despite similar education levels. Additionally, the study challenges preconceptions by revealing that the highest frequency of sexually transmitted diseases is found among heterosexual individuals rather than those who identify as homosexual. This groundbreaking research aims to challenge societal taboos and stimulate critical reflection.

Comprehensive Investigation and Public Engagement

The STD investigation’s primary objective is to engage as many individuals as possible, including volunteers and various sectors of society. The results of the survey on HPV Testing research were staggering. Eleven thousand people completed the HPV online survey within a month. The surveyed individuals comprised two main groups: donors and non-donors. Surprisingly, non-donors were marginally more informed. They provided correct answers to basic questions on HIV and sexually transmitted infections at a rate of 41%, compared to 38% of donors. However, donors also exhibited misconceptions, particularly among those over 25. For example, 48% of donors with stable partners believed they led a “safe” life due to unprotected sexual relations. This highlights the need for improved education and awareness.

Challenging Misconceptions and Addressing Stigma

The STD survey of tests revealed a prevalence of incorrect stereotypes and false beliefs about HIV and sexually transmitted infections among 6-15% of participants. These misconceptions fuel stigma towards HIV-positive individuals and may contribute to risky behaviour. Alarmingly, around 15% of participants believed that the risk of infection during unprotected intercourse with a known partner was non-existent. They incorrectly assumed a higher risk when the partner was homosexual, even with condom use. Cross-referencing the research data with HIV diagnosis records of tests revealed that heterosexual individuals aged 25-46 comprised the majority of people living with HIV. This underscores the information gap within this age group.

 The Volunteering Festival: Challenging Comfort Zones

The eighth edition of the Volunteering STD Festival, commencing today and concluding on Sunday, will take place in the vibrant city of Lucca under a bustling tent structure in Piazza Napoleone. With three days of events featuring 100 speakers and 25 conferences, the festival embodies its theme: “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” This theme reflects the evolving role of volunteering in contemporary society, challenging social norms, and advocating for greater community engagement. Through practical initiatives and thought-provoking HPV discussions, the festival aims to inspire individuals to take tests and proactive steps towards fostering a stronger sense of community.

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