STIs and Drug Abuse among Youth and Preventive Healthcare
STIs and Drug Abuse among Youth and Preventive Healthcare
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or venereal diseases are illnesses that one acquires through sexual contact with an infected person (Frost et al, 2007). However, other practices a part from having sexual intercourse such as sharing sexual toys can transmit the diseases if one comes to contact with the causing agent. Viruses, bacteria and protozoa are the main causing agents of STI. The causative agents are prevalent within different regions. In the developed countries, the prevalent causing agents are viruses while bacteria are the main causes of such diseases in the developing world. However, increased interaction of people from different regions because of globalization is changing this disparity.
At initial stages, STIs are accompanied by several symptoms such as small swellings resembling pimples that aggravate to wounds in the genital areas. Although several symptoms are presented, Johnson cites that there are three, which are associated with most of the sexually transmitted infections (2001). Among the three, the most prevalent in most STIs is urethral discharge. Any urethral discharge should be enough reason to see a physician for check up before things get out of hand. The second symptom of the three that are prevalent in most STIs is any kind of soreness on the genital areas. The third symptom is discharge from the vigina, which causes irritations and an itching effect on the vulva regularly. When one experiences any of these symptoms, it is a sign of STI and a physician should be consulted immediately.
Different STIs can be prevalent in some areas while others are common in other areas. According to Whittington, studies in Britain indicate that the most prevalent STIs include Chlamydia, gonococcal and genital warts (2001). In other areas, other STIs apart from the aforementioned have been reported. Others include herpes, vaginal candidiasis, hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, human immuno-deficiency virus that is prevalent in developing countries and trichomoniasis amongst others.
Statistics worldwide indicate that there has been an increase in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases in young adults especially between the age of 15 and 24. This has been because of increased promiscuity and premature sex with multiple partners for these ages. As a result, despite increasing research and technology in treating STIs, such ailments have continued to pose an increasing challenge to governments, health practitioners and facilities, as well as other organizations charged with ensuring health across the world. These diseases have not only had devastating effects to health of communities, but also the economy and society as whole. It has become a paramount issue to all healthcare providers.
Although STIs have severe effects, they are preventable. The main reason for an increase in teenage STIs is not only caused by promiscuity, but also lack of proper education on sex and ways of preventing transmission to the teenagers. According to Ellingson, major players within the health sector concerned with fighting against such diseases have been a bit reluctant to educate teenagers about sex on the notion that they are too young, naïve and not yet ready for sexual activities (2008). Contrary to this notion is the reality, which is supported by strong evidence that adolescent age people are increasingly engaging in sexual intercourse at very young ages. In addition, increasing unwanted pregnancies and STIs as aforementioned is further evidence that many teenagers are not informed on the topic of sex considering all are easily preventable.
Most of the STIs except for a few such as HIV/AIDS and herpes that are viral, costly and hard to treat and in some cases remaining incurable, other STIs can be easily treated especially when diagnosed at an early stage of infection. To win the fight against STIs, it is important that all people especially teenagers go for frequent tests to increase early diagnosis that enhances easy and effective treatment. Unfortunately, most of the STIs remain undetected or unrecognized at an early age for most people. As a result, majority only realize they are infected at an advances stage, which increases the costs of treatment while still increasing treatment during intervention (Ellingson, 2008). Therefore, any body who is involved in unprotected sex should get regular tests to be sure they are not infected.
The fight against STIs is not going to be won by increased education alone. It is important to have statistical data concerning frequency of sexual activities in teenagers. Because of the nature of teenagers to withhold information about their sexual activities, it has been hard to gain information on how often, as well as the number of partners young teenagers are engaging in sex with. Additionally, there is no information as to when these teenagers engage in sexual activities. This kind of information is crucial for all stakeholders within the healthcare industry, educators and parents who are engaged in eliminating the increasing probabilities of adolescents acquiring STIs. It is important that teenagers provide honest information to the educators and other stakeholders in providing effective guidance on reducing the risk.
In a study conducted in Mississippi, it indicated that 76% of all Chlamydia cases in the states were reported in teenagers and young adults who made up a mere 15% of the whole population. Further study indicated that of all the cases, 74% were reported in women, meaning that they were at a higher risk of contracting the disease compared to their male counterparts. All the cases reported on Chlamydia in Mississippi were 21,215 (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2011).
The previous year, Mississippi reported gonorrhea as the most prominent STI. In 2011, the cases reported on the same had decreased to 5,816. However, this is below the cases reported on Chlamydia. On the cases of gonorrhea, women made up 58%, while 75% of this was of African Americans ethnicity. In addition, the study indicated that people between the ages of 15 to 24 made up 69% of the total number of cases reported on gonorrhea (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2011). This evidence correlated with that of Chlamydia where majority were women, again proving the high risk of STIs to females compared to their male counterparts.
As aforementioned, the two studies have indicated a higher risk of contracting STIs in girls compared to the boys. More on this is that the younger generations especially teenagers are at a higher risk of being infected with the venereal diseases. One of the main reasons contributing to the high risk of STIs in people between the ages of 4 and 25 is that this age bracket they are at peak of their sexual activities while the youngest among the groups are discovering about it. This is proven by a fact that the risk of venereal diseases to people below the age of 14 is quite low (Wang 2007).
The reason that children below the age of 14 have a lower risk of infection from STIs is because they are not sexually active, which proves that abstinence is the best way of ensuring that such diseases are not transmitted. In addition to abstinence, practicing safe sex such as using a condom every time they have sex would also reduces the risk of transmitting the diseases. However, this will require educating the young adults on how to practice safe and provide them with information about the sexually transmitted infections, as well as how to prevent themselves from being infected. In addition to education and advocating for safe sex, advice from healthcare professionals and regular checks up can save and help youths from contracting venereal diseases.
Drug Use – Alcohol, Cigarette Smoking ad other Recreational Drugs
Drugs that cause addiction are quite many and hard to mention with certainty their number. However, most of them have similar characteristics, such as the ability to cause intoxication on the user, which can easily lead to addition. It is estimated that over 21 million people in the world are drug abusers, with more statistics showing an increasing trend. Majority of these drug users are beyond reprehension, which makes it almost impossible to stop their addition even with rehabilitation and medication. In most cases, the drug users engage in destructive behaviors that cause them distress and problems, further increasing their reliance on addictive drugs as a way of sedating their distress. Such people are not in a position to engage in meaningful activities within the society, meaning that drug abuse is a major drawback and barrier to economic development in the entire world. Among the major addictive drugs abuses are cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco that is found in cigarettes. Some of the effects that come along with abuse of such drugs include loss of memory, hallucinations and in some cases insanity (Wang 2007).
In the previous century, drug abuse in United States of America had drastically increased especially in young people where 55% of teenagers reported using illicit drugs before completion of high school in a study conducted in 1975 (Lloyd et al. 2011). By 1981, this number had risen by 11%, where drug use in high schools represented over two-thirds increase. However, over the next decade ending 1992, the number had dropped to 41%. This was short-lived as the number of drug users in United States had gone back to its original size of 55% in 1999. in the 21st century almost a decade later in 2007, where the percentage of young people admitting to drug use reduced to 47% only to increase to 50% two years later in 2009.
Trends in drug use indicate that it is not confined to a specific group. Rather, it is made up of people from different backgrounds, cultures and in different situations (Haas, 2011; McLaren et al., 2008). This indicates that any person irrespective of background of culture is at a risk of abusing drugs especially if there are no precautions taken to avoid them. However, despite the fact that anybody irrespective of background is at risk of abusing drugs, some factors contributing to a higher risk in some groups. Statistics has indicated that the prevailing socioeconomic activity is one of the factors that can increase one risk to drug abuse. An example is people living in low socioeconomic areas where drug abuse is prevalent such as in slums. Residents of such areas are more likely to abuse drugs than those living in affluent areas where exposure to addictive drugs is low are.
In young adults especially teenagers, several factors could increase their probability of abusing drugs. Among the most common is peer pressure where majority of teenagers are influenced by their friends. Some view this behavior as something of higher class or being ‘cool’, where many do not want to be left out. Research has indicated that adolescent people are more influenced by peer pressure compared to other groups. The main reason why adolescent children are affected by peer pressure is their flawed decision making techniques. Instead of using logic thinking and education to make decisions, majority of teenagers seek to impress their peers. To avoid engaging in drug abuse, it is very crucial that adolescent people make use of education and logic to make decisions instead of their innate urge to impress others (Karmakar 2006).
Background of the family is yet another factor that influences drug abuse among many people. The family is the primary unit that one belongs to, which is also the major factor to shaping the behavior of a person from when they are young children. A child’s behavior is the result of strategies deployed by the family in their upbringing. Issues such as lack of effective parental guidance and management increase the likelihood of adolescent engaging in drug abuse. Parents need to ensure control at this age, which is the most sensitive (Grunski 2007). In addition to better control and management, parent should be role models to their children. For instance, drinking in front of children would encourage such behavior in adolescent children who seek to emulate their parents.
Abuse of drugs is also linked to other issues such as health and social problems. An example is undesirable social behaviors such as sharing of needles and engaging in unsafe sexual activities that is common in drug users (Ansseau et al, 2004). Such behaviors increase the risk of drug users to diseases especially sexually transmitted infections. For instance, HIV/AIDS is quite common in people who abuse drugs especially drinking that impair one’s judgment. Furthermore, use of drugs reduces one’s immunity system, making them more susceptible to diseases, increasing their likelihood of contracting terminal and fatal diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis.
Current research has indicated a link between abnormalities within the cardiovascular system and use of drugs. According to Marmakar, such a linkage is an indication of the potential ability of drugs abuse to interfere with normal functions of the heart, which causes irregular heartbeats and heart attack (2006). Other drugs especially those taken through injections such as cocaine increase the risk of vein collapse and increase bacterial breeding within the blood system. The immediate effect of drugs leading to addiction is their nature to react with brain cells to produce euphoric effect. If taken in large doses, the effect could cause stroke, brain damage and seizures (Stall 2001). A specific example of the effect of alcohol according to research carried out is its capacity to damage the nervous system that reduces performance of people in regard to reaction time where one becomes slower and causing shaking of hands especially when one is not engaging in the event (Alegria, 2011).
Dealing with addiction requires the users to admit that they have a problem in order to make an effort. After accepting their problem, they can start seeking information concerning the issue in order to understand what they can do to solve the problem. This strategy requires one to dispel ignorance and appreciate realistic knowledge on the issue. After gaining required understanding regarding the subject, it becomes easier to fight addiction from an enlightened perspective (Ivey et al. 2007). In majority of therapy strategies, cognitive information is incorporated as part of the transformation, which can be explicit of implicit. Therapists require one to have the knowledge to make informed decisions. This approach also helps the users in contributing to the best strategy to deploy in solving their drug problems.
Drug abuse poses one of the most complicated issues in life. For therapists who seek to help drug abusers in solving their issues, it is necessary for them to start by finding out the root cause. Several factors contribute and encourage use of drugs. If such factors are not solved, the chances of drifting back even after treatment is high. Knowing the root cause will help the user in avoiding such factors to reduce the likelihood of going back. Because of the expensive nature of treating and solving such issues, it is logic for people to avoid engaging in drug abuse.
Preventive healthcare is the approach in that aims are reducing the likelihoods of becoming contracting any illness. Its focus is maintaining one’s current health through strengthening the immune system and avoiding diseases. It is considered the best and cheapest approach to ensuring wellness. However, it has faced a criticism especially due to the fact that it doe not incorporate clinical and medical experience. In addition to this, many medical and healthcare practitioners cite that it distraction from their professional expertise of curative approaches. However, due to increasing costs of curative and managed approaches, health bodies and organizations are advocating for preventive healthcare for entire populations’ wellness. For instance, several healthcare bodies in united states that include National Prevention, Federal Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, Public Health Council, Integrative and Public Health Group amongst other groups came together to develop the National Prevention Strategy. Several strategies for engaging patients in proactive role to preventive healthcare available are discussed. In addition and more specifically, individualized preventive approaches are discussed, from which a conclusion about management initiatives where whole corporations can take part is drawn.
Creation of Opportunities to Discuss Preventive Healthcare
In medicine, preventive healthcare takes more focus on psychological and sociological approach, which simply means it is not clinical in nature. In order to implement effective preventive strategies, the first strategy should be creating a chance for discussion on the issue (McClary, Marantz and Taylor 2000). According to Ibrahim, Savitz, Carey and Wagner, creation of such opportunities should aim at establishing a connection between healthcare professionals and the targeted populations (2001). In order to start the opportunity creation, an analysis on priorities and needs is necessary in order to have topics for discussion. Such an analysis will also help in identifying opportunities that can be exploited regarding preventive healthcare. An analysis on classification of the opportunities is very important because its main goal is ensuring that discussions on public and individualized patients on preventive healthcare are achieved (Blue, Barnette, Ferguson & Garr, 2000).
Within the discussions, there are two main categories of priorities that include the broader aspect of preventive medicine and the individualized one. The broader aspect category refers to crosscutting measures that can include creating environments that are healthy, increase capacity for prevention, public health and clinical preventive measures. The broad priorities are necessary in finding out ways that can be used to achieve effective discussions between the healthcare providers and target populations. As an example, it would be important to note the factors that affect the population’s health broadly such places of work, educations, play, shopping amongst others when discussing healthy environments. With such focus, it would be easy to focus on social sites where many people within the targeted population meet such as schools that are ideal for holding such discussions (Rego, 2005). This requires knowing where each targeted population frequents. For instance, it would be suitable to hold public health discussions in schools and playgrounds if the target population is young school going people. The second category is more personalized. It involves discussions such as healthy eating, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, avoiding abuse of drugs and encouraging sexual health amongst others.
Target groups on healthcare should involve every person from old to young, as well as professional and non-professional. Discussion of preventive healthcare can be targeted at professional communities through first defining how different economic activities affect one’s health. For instance, targeting an agricultural community would require discussions on use of land, pathological effects of various farm chemicals and biological exposure to health. Focusing on the different factors that affect health of different populations provides a good opportunity for discussing preventive healthcare.
Another approach to creating preventive healthcare discussions on the crosscutting category is focusing on clinical preventive procedures. Various procedure, tests and counseling approaches can be used by healthcare professionals and other stakeholders in implementing effective preventive healthcare programs. In addition, such programs will facilitate detection of potential healthcare issues and provision of information to target populations. Furthermore, opportunities for discussing preventive healthcare can arise from such clinical set-ups (Gustafson et al, 2002). Considering the government has included preventive healthcare screening such as screening part of offering its insurance package, the resulting effect is reduced costs for the patients, which is encouraging. Such a positive influence on preventive healthcare encourages medical practitioners to increase its opportunities.
Raising Preventive Healthcare Issues to Patients during Consultations
In order to encourage more patients to engage actively in preventive healthcare, it is important for medical practitioners to raise issues concerning the topic during consultations. This provides an opportunity for discussing preventive healthcare at an individualized level with the patient. Some of the personalized procedures that can be achieved this way include discussions concerning tobacco-free lifestyle, active living and healthy eating amongst others. Such procedures can be achieved during hospital visits to targeted populations such as requesting smokers to hold discussions with medical practitioners. For instance, a doctor can engage a patient in discussion regarding preventive strategies through outlining potential impacts of their current lifestyle to their health. The doctor can also involve family members to the patient in order to take part in helping their relative in implementation of preventive measures (Woolf, Jonas & Lawrence, 1996). Research has indicated the effectiveness of including the family in the implementation of preventive healthcare. The main reason of including family members is that some of the patients could e suffering from conditions that make them incapable of implementing the preventive practices. The family comes in handy considering they spend the most time with the patient.
For instance, a 63 year-old woman whose mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s Dementia and osteoporosis would came in handy in discussing preventive healthcare procedures during prevention. Her mother would not be in a position to administer majority of the procedures prescribed by doctor let alone implement preventive procedures. Thus, the doctor can engage the daughter in discussions on preventive healthcare in order to take better care of her mother. In addition to taking care of the mother, it is also an opportunity for her to learn the preventive healthcare considering her age. Such preventive healthcare discussions would help her in taking care of herself to avoid succumbing to the same conditions her mother is going through. In such a scenario, the doctor will be in a position to administer treatment procedures while at the same time implementing preventive healthcare.
In the same scenario, considering that osteoporosis is a bone thinning condition that starts after 30 years of age, it is possible the 63 year-old woman has it too. Such a prognosis can validate the concern for preventive healthcare to the daughter even if the patient is the mother. The doctor can also use other information to justify the concern for preventive activities such as osteoporosis being dependent on not only natural process, but also diet, physical activities and one’s health. Therefore, it would be a great opportunity to raise concern for preventive healthcare in such a consultation to the daughter. The doctor can offer a threefold advice to that would include diet, physical exercises and other healthy habits. As an example, the doctor can encourage intake of more calcium and vitamin d as a clinical preventive procedure. On physical fitness, the doctor can recommend weight-bearing exercises appropriate for her age. As evidenced above, it is necessary for doctors to use prognosis of potential health problems in creating opportunities for preventive healthcare discussions.
Another platform that can facilitate raising preventive healthcare issues is within electronic management of health records. From a research by The Annals of Family Medicine, it was realized that health records provide an opportunity for raising issues concerning preventive healthcare to patients (O’Connor et al, 2003). Providing patients with information concerning their health empower them to implement preventive healthcare procedures because they are aware of the potential risks. Therefore, doctors can use such information to provide recommendations to patients about ongoing preventive healthcare measures based on their future risks. This provides an opportunity for providing preventive healthcare based on current ongoing procedures. Therefore, precautionary healthcare measures can be achieved through procedures such as screening tests for potential diseases such osteoporosis, as well as immunizations for various infections.
Practicing Management Initiatives
For many countries and healthcare organizations, preventive procedures are becoming increasingly popular. This has seen implementation of several policies and initiatives specific for delivery of preventive healthcare. Primarily, the policies are in form of legislations and strategies for public education especially from the government. In United States, the main legislations are cited under the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, which is a comprehensive plan with its main aim being to increase the number of citizens leading a healthy life from childhood to late adulthood (Gruen, Campbell, Blumenthal, 2006). From the various policies and projects by both government and private organizations, four initiatives can be discerned.
The first initiative is ensuring management practices for healthy and safe environments and communities while minimizing obstacles. This requires direct involvement of corporations and employers through encouraging them to ensure safe practices and habitable environments. For instance, control of pollution from corporations is part of the preventive healthcare management practice. This can be achieved through training such organizations on management practices that ensure safe environments (Lane, 2000). Some of the focus points of this initiative include human resource compliance, business operations and facilities. A current trend has been that has come up from corporations is using healthcare experts in educating staff concerning environmental health. Another approach is creating drafts of guidelines for assessing environmental impact that focus on preventive healthcare.
The second initiative is in the recent Food and Drug Administration branch of government authorization on various preventive healthcare practices. For instance, the branch can impose regulations on food products likely to cause harm to the public. This includes products such as tobacco, and unhealthy soda products. Another aspect is the requirement imposed on chain restaurants with more than 20 locations to provide nutrition information of their menus. Management practice initiatives have also extended to include health insurances. Beneficiaries of Medicare are now entitled to annual check ups while other insurance companies are required provide for screenings among other preventive practices. Streamlining of preventive healthcare provision can be achieved with such legislations that include corporations directly.
The final initiative in streamlining preventive healthcare delivery is use of public education nationally. This initiative lays its focus on target populations especially those that are vulnerable to outbreaks and other infections. Such education increases awareness to the public concerning potential risks, which encourages them to adopt preventive measures. Such initiatives are quite effective in third world nations where the public lacks information and education (Wolfe, 1975). Such educations can be achieved in various ways. For instance, as businesses advertise their goods such as soaps, they can provide information concerning infections that can be prevented through using soap to wash hands. This way, the public is able to learn while the business benefits through increased sales.
Evidence from aforementioned and outlined preventive healthcare approaches indicates complexity and diversity of this part of healthcare. What makes it complex and diversified is the fact that is psychological and sociological unlike usual clinical practices. Therefore, such strategies and initiatives go beyond professional and medical practitioners to other stakeholders that include business and the public amongst others. Every person within the country has a role to play in ensuring effectiveness of preventive healthcare. The reason is that its main goal is not only saving costs, but also ensuring wellness of the whole public, which starts with undertaking healthy habits from individuals. This directly influences other areas apart from medical fields such as economics and general development of a country. To strengthen preventive healthcare concerns, it is important that all people within a country have broad picture perspective of its importance and benefits.
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