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TRAVEL ALONG WITH SEXUAL HEALTH: FEW THINGS TO KNOW

It is very easy to get carried away when it comes to holiday romancing but imagine the sexually transmitted disease can completely ruin it. Many people who travel alone or with their friends get involved with sex which has a new partner. The studies have shown that around 50 percent of them get involved with a new partner.

Make a note, that when ever you travel, sexual health awareness should be an important component in prioritizing your heath and your prospective partner.

1. STI Cases are on the rise in many countries.
STIs are generally caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are transmitted through unprotected virgina, anal or oral sex. These include:

Bacterial infections – bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), and syphilis.
Viruses – herpes, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Zika Virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Parasites – trichomoniasis and pubic lice.
Recently, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been on the rise in many countries around the world.

The rise in STIs is due in part to more relaxed attitudes of people towards unprotected sex and less use of condom, as well as funding cuts to sexual health programs & services in some areas.

The most common STIs in returning travellers includes chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and chancroid. Travellers who have been sexually active in foreign countries have also reported cases of hepatitis B and C and HIV infections. Many STIs shows no signs or symptoms and so you can unknowingly bring home an infection and spread it to partners.

2. Certain STIs will become more common at your destination.
STIs occur through out the world, but few types of infections might be more common in compare with other parts of the world. At your destination, you may find a higher rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea. Whereas, STIs that are rarely found in your home country which may take place more commonly in your destination. For example, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is relatively uncommon in North America but is regularly found in Africa, Asia, South America.

Recently, international health authorities have shown concerns for spreading antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea & how travellers play a role in its transmission. Gonorrhea is a very common STI that causes no noticeable symptoms in most people who are infected. If left untreated, it can lead to long-term side effects such as infertility.

When an infection such as gonorrhea becomes used to to antibiotics it is not easy, and it becomes almost impossible to treat strains of gonorrhea that are used to some antibiotics being widely used.

3. Your travel health insurance will not provide coverage for STI treatment.
Standard travel health insurance policies do not cover for expenses related to treatment of STIs. Your travel health insurance exists to help only in the case of an unforeseen emergency. Getting engaged in behaviour that is seen to rise your risk for personal injury or illness can affect your coverage.

STIs are diagnosed during you holidaying as often as they are diagnosed after a traveller returns home. You should visit a doctor after having unprotected sexual intercourse in case of any symptoms. Note that many STIs show no visible signs or symptoms.

4. Your destination may place restrictions on sexual health rights and emergency contraceptives.
Be aware, its important that not all countries share the same perspectives on sexual health, sexual orientation, and access to sexual health resources. Women and LGBTQ+ travellers may face certain discriminatory treatment from healthcare providers when seeking sexual health care or services.
Make your research strong for your destination in advance. For example, same-sex relationships are a criminal offense in more than 70 countries around the globe. A number of countries also have entry restrictions for travellers with HIV/AIDS.

If you are travelling with birth control, ensure you have sufficient for your trip, additionally an extra supply in case of loss or theft. Consider packing emergency contraception in case your birth control fails or you have unprotected sex.

5. You can reduce your OWN risk.
All travelers who have sexual intercourse with a new partner are at high risk of getting infected with an STI. However, if you do decide to be sexually active while abroad, there are ways you can reduce your risk.

No matter where you travel, the following precautions are HIGHLY recommended:

Get pre-travel health advice from a healthcare practitioner before you depart to your destination.
Consult your doctor about Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. These are the only STIs that can be prevented by vaccination.
Pack enough supply of male and/or female condoms, regardless of having sex or not. The availability varies at every destination
Always use a condom with a new partner. Note that condoms will not provide full protection against STIs such as herpes, genital warts, pubic lice, and scabies. However, they do prevent against unwanted pregnancy and other STIs, including HIV.
Store condoms correctly and check their expiration date before use.
Have a certain Limit your sexual partners.
Exercise caution when using alcohol or drugs as it will affect your judgement and chances get increased towards unprotected or unwanted sex.
Make an appointment with a healthcare practitioner if you have unprotected sexual intercourse or suspect an STI infection.

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