The Frightening World of STDs

What’s out there, where to get tested, and how to live a healthy sexual life

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 25.07.2012 14:36 (updated on 25.07.2012)

The Frightening World of STDs

In a city with such a thriving, liberal nightlife scene, it is not uncommon knowledge that Prague has become known for beer, liquor, drugs, and sex. With all the booze, late-night clubs, bars, strip clubs, and even brothels that Prague has to offer its inhabitants and the many tourists that enter and exit the city daily, it is not surprising that the rate of casual sex is so frequent. After all, what brings two strangers together more so than endless amounts of liquor and crowded dance floors?

Bearing all of these circumstances in mind, it is highly recommended for individuals to closely monitor themselves for sexually transmitted diseases. According to Canadian Medical Care’s Dr. Daniela Vaňousová, from the year 2010, there have been 1,779 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in total (excluding HIV) in Prague. Of these, 16 percent were foreigners. Despite these numbers, there are still many ways that citizens and visitors of Prague can protect themselves from becoming part of that statistic.

Dr. Vaňousová stated that CMC has found 1,022 cases of Syphilis, resulting in 9.7 cases for every 100,000 people; 756 cases of Gonorrhea, resulting in 7.2 cases for every 100,000 people; and 444 cases of Chlamydia Trachomatis, resulting in 4.2 cases for 100,000 people. From the onset of HIV until February 2012, 1779 people have been found HIV positive in the Czech Republic. Overall, HPV is the most common viral infection and Chlamydia is the most common bacterial infection, followed by Syphilis and Gonorrhea. Among all these infamous and familiar infections are also new STDs that are coming to the Czech Republic from developing countries. The world of STDs is constantly changing and developing, transmitting individually and even culturally.

Every day, STDs are transmitted between strangers and couples. These diseases are also related to age. Chlamydia and HPV are much more related to younger sexually active people than those over the age of 30, which may indicate that individuals should also pay attention to the age of their partners. Casual sex is obviously a big cause in the spread of STDs as well as paid sexual intercourse and drug abuse. Even though it may not seem like someone has an STD, many of these diseases do not have clinical symptoms. You are always at risk if you have unprotected sex, even if you may not notice any symptoms.

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Nonetheless, there are still some common symptoms of STDs that should always raise a red flag and convince you or your partner to get tested. There are two important signs to look for: discharge and ulcers. Discharge is an STD indicator, especially for men. For some men, they may have just a little discharge in the morning but this is still enough of an issue that they should get tested. Ulcers in the genitals are also a key symptom of an STD. These ulcers may not hurt, however they can also appear in the mouth, throat, and trunk. Again, these are much more noticeable in men since ulcers in the vagina are not noticeable to the naked eye.

The Frightening World of STDs

If you or your sexual partner notices these kinds of symptoms, the best thing to do is to visit your local venereology department. Although urologists and dermatologists can test you as well, the disease itself should be screened and treated by a venereologist. The costs of these tests vary depending on which lab and if the patient is with or without insurance. Some STDs are tested by blood and some are tested with a swab—the swab tests are much more expensive than blood tests. For example, HIV tests range from 500 CZK to 800 CZK. Syphilis tests range from as low as 200 CZK to 1,300 CZK. PCR tests for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HPV range from 1,200 CZK to 1,800 CZK. The disparity in prices is a reflection of the various places and methods of tests offered in the Czech Republic. Nonetheless, if you are insured, then it should be included in the insurance. There are also some organizations that test HIV for free. However, unlike the United States, there are no “free clinics” such as Planned Parenthood.

After testing and screening, if you do have an STD, the Czech Republic offers various kinds of treatment. Viral infections are treated with drugs, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are treated with antibiotics and Syphilis is treated with penicillin. The Czech Republic also offers some preventive measures, such as vaccines. The HPV vaccine is offered for girls around 13 and 14 years old. Most women have to pay for these vaccines, but young girls are insured. The vaccine costs 10,000 CZK and is highly recommended because HPV is increasing and has a correlation with carcinoma.

Given the dangers associated with casual sex and STDs, it goes unsaid that the more partners you have, the higher the risk of an unwanted infection. The best preventive measures, however, are to stay faithful, have one sexual partner, get tested, have protected sex—you can even get infected through just oral sex—and most of all, just be honest. If you really want to get tested and you have your suspicions, just be honest with the doctor. Fabricating any crazy stories and excuses will only mislead the doctors with testing. STDs have various incubation periods. Some diseases like Gonorrhea begin to show symptoms in 3 days, whereas Syphilis can take up to 3 months. Therefore, if you are not honest with your doctor, they can miss some symptoms. Dr. Vaňousová said, “A lot of people tell very interesting stories that are not true and they don’t mention that they have had extramarital intercourse. Many doctors are misled and some skin diseases can imitate STD infections. Just be honest and live a healthy sexual life.”

In this day and age, it may seem near impossible to steer clear of casual sex, especially in a city like Prague. Protected sex is always a key component in the prevention of STDs.. Still, it is advisable to get tested if you think you may have contracted an STD. Although there are no free clinics, health insurance will cover the majority of tests, and there are a myriad of places that offer affordable testing and treatment. Price and inaccessibility should never deter anyone from leading a healthy sexual life. If you think something is wrong, get it checked out before you add to the number of statistics, or worse, spread unwanted disease to a loved one. The world of sexually transmitted diseases may be scary, but it doesn’t mean that people are powerless to help themselves or their partners.

Useful links:
Canadian Medical Care – Dermato-venerology
Czech Society Aids Help http://www.aids-pomoc.cz/kj_kontakt.htm or 24h service at +420 224 810 702
List of places where to get tested for HIV in the ČR – http://www.aids-hiv.cz/kdehledatpomoc.html

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