A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers vaccination a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come in contact with them. While there are different types of vaccines for various disease prevention, there is a need to publicise the importance of vaccination against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
According to the American Sexual Health Association, one of every two sexually active persons will have an STD by the time they reach the age of 25 years old. In total, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that approximately 20 million new STDs happen every year; and half of the people dealing with them are between the ages of 15 and 24. Even though many teenagers and unmarried young adults in a country like Nigeria, would swear they have not drunk from the jar of sex, education is still the best sexual health defense, and knowing which STDs are preventable by vaccination is essential in protecting one’s health and wellbeing.
Mind you, not all STDs are medically proven to be prevented by vaccines; for example, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. However, STDs such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B could be prevented through early vaccination.
Medical research has the following information on HPV, Hepatitis A and B
Human Papilloma Virus
HPV is tricky to spot because an infected person might show no symptoms or might develop symptoms years after having sex with an infected partner which makes it difficult or impossible to figure out the source of contraction. If left untreated, some of these strains could potentially cause cervical cancer in women or oropharyngeal cancer in both sexes. Due to its prevalence, it is medically advised that the HPV Vaccine be taken before engaging in one’s first sexual intercourse. Also, getting vaccinated does not eradicate the use of condoms, especially for people with different sexual partners at a goal or at a particular period of time.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can be contracted due to dirty foods or water but also from sexual activities. A medical research has proven that hepatitis A is totally preventable when one takes the vaccine, which consists of two shots administered six months apart.
Hepatitis B is also a liver disease that can be contracted through the exchange of bodily fluids. CDC’s list of people at risk of Hepatitis B includes but is not limited to susceptible sexual partners of people with hepatitis B infection; sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., more than one sex partner during the previous six months); persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted infection; and men who have sex with men.
This vaccine can be received in a series of two, three, or four injections.
While many adults might be at the treatment/management stage of these STDs, it is important to spread the prevention gospel of early vaccination and seek out ways to make it available and affordable to young ones and in local clinics, respectively. Health is a holistic concept that includes sexual wellbeing irrespective of the taboo or restrictive culture surrounding sex in Nigeria. Health is wealth and if a country like Nigeria still struggles to provide adequate medical services/treatment for her ill citizens, then her government should work towards making the well-being of non-infected citizens a priority.
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