Which contraceptive methods protect best against STIs?

Which contraceptive methods protect best against STIs?

A Latex male condoms are the best known protection against HIV and other STIs. Condoms are not foolproof, however, and they do not protect against the transmission of diseases from sores that they do not cover.

Some other contraceptive methods may provide some protection against certain STIs. The diaphragm and cervical cap cover the cervix and may offer some protection against diseases that

Why are women hit harder by STIs than men?

A Sexually transmitted diseases cause suffering for all who are infected, but in many ways, women and girls are the hardest hit, for both biological and social reasons:

• Male-to-female transmission of many infections is more likely to occur than female-to-male transmission. This is particularly true of HIV.

• Young women are even more vulnerable to STIs than older women because the less-mature cervix is more susceptible to injury and infection. As a woman ages, the cells at the opening of the cervix gradually change so that the tissue becomes more resistant to infection. Young women are also more vulnerable for social and emotional reasons: Lack of control in relationships, fear of discussing condom use, and having an older sex partner are all linked to increased STI risk.

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• Once infected, women tend to suffer more consequences of STIs than men. For example, gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause PID and permanent damage to the oviducts in women,

while these infections tend to have less serious effects in men. HPV infection causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. HPV infection is also associated with penile cancer in men, but penile cancer is much less common than cervical cancer. Women also have the added concern of the potential effects of STIs during pregnancy.

• Women with HIV infection often face greater challenges when they are ill. Women may become sicker at lower viral loads compared to men. Women and men with HIV do about as well if they have similar access to treatment, but in many cases women are diagnosed later in the course of HIV infection, receive less treatment, and die sooner. In addition, they may be caring for family members who are also infected and ill. The proportion of new AIDS cases in women is increasing both in the United States and globally.

• Worldwide, social and economic factors play a large role in the transmission and consequences of AIDS and other STIs for women. Such practices as very early marriage for women, often to much older men who have had many sexual partners, places women at risk for infection. Cultural gender norms that promote premarital and extramarital relationships for men, combined with women’s lack of power to negotiate safe sex, make infection a risk even for women who are married and monogamous. In some parts of the world, the stigma of AIDS hits women harder. In addition, lack of education and limited economic opportunities can force women into commercial sex work, placing them at high risk for all STIs. Solutions to the STI crisis in women include greater access to health care as well as empowerment in the social sphere.

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