Prince Ernest was hopelessly in love with the lovely widow, Harriet. Harriet felt the same and threw herself into the German prince’s bed for what she assumed would be an evening of passion.
There was a problem: the prince had syphilis.
To his credit, he was able to gather himself and deter the inflamed, young woman from making a mistake that could haunt her the rest of her life. You can watch the melodrama unfold in this scene from the PBS hit series, “Victoria.”
Now syphilis is treatable
In an era before antibiotics, syphilis was devastating. Today, it can be treated with antibiotics, with this warning from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
“However, treatment might not undo any damage that the infection has already done.”
Syphillis is widespread, with 88,000 reported cases in 2016. However, the CDC reveals the problem of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) goes far beyond syphillis, as the graphic below reveals. Our country is awash in a STD epidemic.
Multiple sex partners fuel the STD epidemic
You are at risk if you are sexually active, and if either you or your partner have had multiple partners.
The consequence of contracting an STD can last your entire life, because some STDs cannot be cured. With each new partner, your odds of contracting an STD increase exponentially.
The CDC tells us that STDs infect 20 million NEW people every year. Worse, many people don’t know for a long time, because they aren’t tested. As a result, STDs infect 110 million Americans today.
The CDC says that you are most likely to be infected with one of the following STDs (in this order):
Even though syphilis is only sixth on this list, this timeless destroyer of lives still infects 117,000 Americans.
Women and men ask these common questions about STDs:
If I use a condom, will that prevent me from contracting an STD?
No, not necessarily. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says,
“The most effective way to avoid getting an STI is to not have sex. Another way is to limit sex to one partner who also limits his or her sex in the same way. Condoms are not 100% safe, but if used properly, will reduce the risk of getting a STI.”
Which STDs are incurable?
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) tells us:
“More than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites are known to be transmitted through sexual contact. Eight of these pathogens are linked to the greatest incidence of sexually transmitted disease. Of these 8 infections, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections and are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms or disease due to the incurable viral infections can be reduced or modified through treatment.”
How often should I test for STDs?
That depends on whether are sexually active with multiple partners, in which case the CDC recommends at least once a year. In the case of gay and bisexual men, it should happen as often as every 3 months.
What are complications from STDs?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
- Pelvic pain
- Pregnancy complications
- Eye inflammation
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Heart disease
- Certain cancers, such as HPV-associated cervical and rectal cancers
Can STDs kill me?
Yes, especially AIDs. Some are curable or treatable, but some impact your immune systems in ways that can shorten your lifespan.
Back to Prince Ernest. Ultimately, he was an honorable man who denied himself pleasure to protect the woman he loved.
The STD epidemic impacts our entire culture. Protect yourself. Protect your partner. Live a healthy life and avoid the anguish and remorse wrought by STDs.
[LEARN more. Get our Women’s Reproductive Health Resource Book online without obligation.]