STDs, including HIV, can be prevented. The Ministry of Health (Singapore) recommends the ABCD approach. This refers to
- Be faithful,
- consistent use of Condom and
- early Detection.
Because STDs can be asymptomatic ( and often are ), early detection depends on early screening tests. For patients who consistently engage in high risk sexual behaviour, it may be advisable to go for regular screening tests for HIV and other STDs.
Additional strategies include:-
Vaccines are available against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus ( HPV ). HPV is the virus which may cause cervical cancer ( women ), anal cancer and genital warts. Use of Medisave may be allowed for Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines ( please check with our staff for eligibility )
- Post-exposure prophylaxis
Post-exposure prophylaxis ( PEP ) refers to treatment with oral medications or injections after potentially being exposed to the virus. In the context of STDs, PEP is available for HIV in the form of ( oral ) pills and for Hepatitis B in the form of injections. For Hepatitis B post-exposure prophylaxis, depending on circumstances of the exposure, Hepatitis B vaccine, with or without Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin, may be necessary. You can read more about it from the US CDC website.
Treatment of viral infections with anti-virals or antibiotics may not be able to ‘cure’ the infection totally. This happens when a certain amount of the virus remains in the body, often ‘hidden’ in the nerve or liver cells or elsewhere, despite a full course of anti-viral medication. Famously, viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and herpes viruses ( eg. HSV ) cannot be cured. Nonetheless, anti-virals may still be given for suppression of the infection.
- Reducing, delaying or even preventing the onset of complications resulting from the infection. In the case of HIV, this means buying crucial time for your immune system. In the case of Hepatitis B or C, this means potentially saving your liver or delaying or preventing liver cancer.
- Reducing the severity and duration of symptoms.
- Minimizing the risk of spread to your close contacts and sexual partners. In most infections, the viral load ( concentration of virus in the blood ) corresponds directly with the risk of passing the infection on. Lowering the viral load thus helps to reduce the chance of passing it on.