Impact of STIs (including HIV) on young people
Sexually transmitted infections are of public health concern because of their potential to cause serious and permanent complications in infected people who are not treated in a timely and effective way. These can include cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, fetal death, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus) and related maternal mortality.
Chlamydial infections and gonorrhoea are important causes of infertility, particularly in women, with far-reaching social consequences including break-up of marriages. Chlamydial infection is an important cause of pneumonia in infants.
Neonatal gonococcal infections of the eyes can lead to blindness.
Congenital syphilis is an important and significant cause of infant morbidity and mortality. In adults, syphilis can cause serious cardiac, neurological and other consequences, which can ultimately be fatal.
Generally, the long-term health consequences of STIs are more serious among women.
Why should this be so?
This is because, women and girls are less likely to experience symptoms, and so many STIs go undiagnosed until a serious health problem develops.
People who become ill from STIs may face loss of community credibility and even health professionals sometimes treat them badly, being judgemental and refusing to provide services. It is important that you provide a good role model and become known for being sympathetic and non-judgemental.