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MAMTA Health Institute for Mother & Child | New Delhi

Treatment and access to services

Effective management of STI is one of the cornerstones of STI control, as it prevents the development of complications and sequelae, decreases the spread of these infections to the partner and in the community.

STIs caused by bacteria can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. These include gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and chancroid. Trichomoniasis, a protozoan infection, can also be treated. STIs caused by viruses cannot be cured, although the symptoms of some, including hepatitis B, genital herpes and Human Papilloma virus, can often be managed so that the client's quality of life is improved.

The provision of accessible, acceptable and effective services is important for the control of STIs. These services may be available in the public or private sector, depending on the region or the country. However it is important to recognize that adolescents often lack information about existing services. Even when they know of them, they are often reluctant to seek help for diagnosis and treatment. This is due to embarrassment and possible stigma. They also fear negative reactions from the service providers and the lack of confidentiality and privacy in the health set-up. Thus the availability of services that are youth friendly and more responsive to the needs of young people will improve the health care seeking behaviour of adolescents and young people.

Frequently, services at a clinic or a hospital consist of provision of diagnosis and treatment, information about STI and their prevention, condom use and partner notification. However just providing information is usually not sufficient to allow patients to accurately assess their own risk of infection or to deal with the challenges of informing a partner/partners, of preventing future infections or dealing with the complications. Therefore to deliver more than just information, counselling services are required. This requires service providers to have compassion, sensitivity and communication skills as well as an ability to overcome their own judgmental attitudes. 

In different health settings, the health resources are scarce. When counselling needs are identified, the person can be referred to a nearby counselling service or to a social health worker with relevant training. 

All young people attending an STI clinic should be counselled about the importance of condoms in preventing STI and should be demonstrated how to use a condom correctly. The person should leave the clinic with some condoms, in case they have sexual intercourse while they or their partners are under STI treatment and should be told where they can purchase or be given regular supplies of condoms. 

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