I can sense a mild confusion in your eyes while reading the title. Let’s quickly get to know about it. Venereology is a branch of medical science that deals with venereal diseases or simply saying, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The word venereal got some substitutes like “Genitourinary medicine” or “STD/STIs” since the word venereal became out of fashion recently. The word VENEREOLOGY is used only 13% when compared to other words in the English language.

The word has an origin from the Roman goddess VENUS. You may wonder why particularly this name? The answer is interesting, the goddess is associated with love, beauty, and fertility and hence the name derived so. The physician who specializes in this field is named a venereologist. In India, the formal training of venereologists started in the year 1910. Before this many cases were wrongly diagnosed, leading to a high rate of false positives and negatives, and in some worst cases, the diseases were unnoticed. Venereal diseases are contagious. But there is no need to worry since most of these diseases are curable in these modern days with advancements in technology resulting in rapid diagnosis and better treatments.

Pathogens like viruses, fungi, parasites, bacteria, and also protozoa, with the common factor being the mode of transmission and acquisition of venereal diseases. More commonly the transmission occurs via skin that’s why venereology is considered as a part of dermatology. In the early part of the twentieth century, there were only five classical venereal diseases namely: syphilis, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale(donovanosis), chancroid, and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). As time passed, a lot more pathogens became causative agents and this added more diseases to that list. Now venereal diseases also include HIV infection, cytomegalovirus infection, hepatitis B, candidiasis, herpes simplex, human papillomavirus infection, and genital scabies.

pathogens being the common factor of acquisition of STD’s

In the early 1960s, there were approximately six STDs described in textbooks with little research happening in sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In those times, there weren’t that many medical centers offering care to patients with STDs and hence were left with few resources. [1]

Let’s know about the brief history of some venereal diseases:
Syphilis was the first STD to visit India and go widespread. Its arrival was seen in the 16th century and was known as the Portuguese disease, based on the fact that it would have come from there. This amounted to a loss of effective manpower. Gonorrhea and chancroid originated in India during British rule. Donovanosis was first recognized in Madras in the year 1881 and in 1902 LGV was recorded.

Presently, genital herpes is the most common STD in India. As per the reports in 2000, the majority of infections (26%) among women attending reproductive health clinics in New Delhi is herpes. During the past three decades, bacterial STIs have been declined but there is a constant increase in viral STIs which is a major concern. Effective management of Sexually Transmitted Infections is based on three pillars: Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment.

Diagnosis, prevention and treatment-applicable for all diseases

According to WHO, around 340 million new cases of curable venereal diseases namely gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, syphilis, and trichomoniasis have been recorded with around 75-85% contribution from the developing countries. Facilities for diagnosis and treatment of common venereal infections were much improved after the Second World War. But with the departure of the British, the system for the control of STI became weak in India. Only after the widespread HIV infection in 1986, did a changing trend happen and there was a gradual decline in these venereal diseases.

It is important for every individual to be educated about venereal diseases. This would create awareness among the people and the effects would be lessened. Hope this blog gives a clear idea about STD/STI/Venereal diseases.


[1] Reference

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