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  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), caused by a broad range of pathogens (Table 30-1), have a high physical and psychosocial morbidity.
  • The syndromes caused by these pathogens affect both the sexually active couple and neonates born to an infected mother (Table 30-2).
  • Bacterial STIs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, donovanosis, and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) can easily be cured with antimicrobial therapy.
  • Viral STIs, such as those caused by HIV/AIDS, human papillomavirus (HPV), and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), are chronic infections, characterized by prolonged viral shedding and opportunity for infecting a sexual partner; can only be suppressed but not cured by antiviral therapy.
  • Nearly all sexually active individuals are at risk for these viral STIs. HPV persists in the anogenital mucosa for months, years, or decades after primary infection. HSV-2 infection is chronic and lifelong.
  • Prevention offers the best approach to managing STIs.
  • In developing nations, where STIs are more common, lack of funds for health care often limit detection and treatment of STIs as well as immunizations.
  • Untreated syphilis can be a lifelong infection with long-term morbidity.
  • Transmission of HIV/AIDS to neonates occurs commonly in developing nations, where the prevalence of infection is high; antiretroviral treatment of mother and neonate markedly reduces neonatal infection.
  • Transmission of HSV has more immediate effects on the neonate, who is more susceptible to acute visceral infection.
  • Transmission of HPV infection to the neonate can result in anogenital condyloma, and, later in life, respiratory papillomatosis.


Synonyms: Sexually transmitted diseases, genital infectious diseases, venereal disease (VD)

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Table 30-1 Sexually Transmissible Pathogens and Associated Disease Syndromes

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