STDs in Children and Adolescents

It is a common misconception that only sexually-active individuals can get sexually-transmitted diseases. But intimate contact is just one of the three ways that you can acquire STDs. You can get STDs through direct blood contact or contact with blood products. STDs can also be passed by the infected mother to a newborn. That is why it’s important for parents to get an STD screening at clinics in Singapore.

How are STDs transmitted?
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 30 known viruses, bacteria and parasites that are vectors of STDs. There are three ways for STDs to be transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected individual. These are sexual contact, direct contact with infected blood and blood products, and transmission from mother to baby. Although mother-to-infant transmission is not uncommon, some cases of STD in children and adolescents are a result of sexual abuse.

How are STDs diagnosed?
Not all STDs show symptoms. Some can even stay dormant for years. Not all infected persons are even aware that they have STD. After all, sexual contact isn’t the only way to get STD. The only sure way to find out if the child is infected is to get an STD screening. It’s also important for partners who are planning to have a baby to get STD testing to avoid complications during pregnancy and childbirth. A specific STD test looks for one type of STD so you have to talk to the doctor about the present symptoms.

How are STDs treated?
Fortunately, four STDs currently have cures. When detected early through STD screening, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis are curable. These four are treated with antibiotics. There are four STDs, however, that are incurable. These are hepatitis B virus, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus and human immunodeficiency virus. HIV and herpes types can be treated for symptoms with STD testing Singapore and to prevent the rapid progression of the diseases.

The doctors in Singapore will recommend antivirals for both HIV and herpes. Hepatitis B, the most common form of hepatitis, is treated with antivirals and immune system modulators although the disease can’t be cured. However, there is a growing concern about the resistance of bacteria and viruses to antibiotics, the only known medication for STDs such as gonorrhea.

Are there STD-caused birth defects?
Infections can be passed on by the mother through the placenta, when the water breaks before childbirth, or during labor or delivery. Possible mother-to-infant transmissions can result in birth defects such as prematurity, low birth weight, pneumonia, sepsis, congenital deformities and neonatal conjunctivitis. Sometimes the infection can lead to preterm premature rupture of the membranes, neonatal death and stillbirth. The mother might also experience uterine infection as a result. The most common STDs that are transmitted from mother to infant are chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV and hepatitis B virus.

What should an expectant woman do?
Not all women who are infected are even aware that they have contracted STD. Most don’t show symptoms and are therefore left untreated. Even if you haven’t had multiple intimate partners or you haven’t experienced any STD symptom at all, you should still get an STD screening at least once a year. More importantly, if you and your partner are planning to have a baby soon, you should both get an STD testing. Some of the most common STDs that you should avoid are chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, genital herpes, HPV, syphilis, trichomoniasus and HIV/AIDS. Even just one sexually transmitted disease can cause complications.

What are the screening procedures?
Pregnant women are screened for various illness during prenatal visits. You can talk to your doctor about screening for STDs especially if you or you partner have a history of STDs, one of you have had more than one partners, or if you have shared needles for tattooing, piercing or drug use. STD screening will be performed on the first prenatal and again during the 3rd trimester if there are symptoms. Ask for STD tests that target common infections.You can also ask about vaccinations for hepatitis B and for four types of HPV. If you are infected while pregnant, you can undergo treatment with the help of antibiotics or antiretroviral medications depending on the result of the STD test.

What happens to sexual assault victims?
Children and adolescents who have STDs are often victims of sexual abuse. While most adolescents can undergo the same STD screening used for adults, there is also the issue of managing physical and psychological trauma, documentation of findings (for legal purposes), collection of non-biological evidence, and managing the risk of pregnancy. STD testing in children and adolescents is mostly done with the use of cultures of the samples taken from the victim.

Other clinics in Singapore might use NAATs to detect gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Some will be given a postexposure hepatitis B vaccination, HPV vaccination for ages 9 to 26, and HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis. Children and adolescents are tested for the following STDs: gonorrhea and chlamydia, syphilis, herpes simplex virus, HIV, and trichomoniasis.

What is teenage unprotected sex?
Other young adults who acquire STDs practice unsafe sex. Unfortunately, even the use of contraceptives or barriers cannot prevent all types of STDs from spreading. STDs don’t often show symptoms and even if there were signs, teenagers are more likely to hide from their parents and pretend that nothing is wrong. Unprotected sex can have serious consequences such as exposure to incurable STDs and unwanted and difficult pregnancy. Parents should actively help in counseling and behavior intervention to protect their child from STDs. Misinformation about STDs usually starts at home so parents should start by educating themselves about the prevention and diagnosis of common STDs. Help the child become a responsible adult without the stigma and ignorance.