Diseases whose main means of transfer is through sexual intercourse. Fear of AIDS and herpes (see below) is changing attitudes to casual sex. It pays to be choosy about who you have sex with, especially if you or your partner have other partners. Be fastidious about genital hygiene, don't ignore unusual discharges, itches, bumps, or sores in the genital area, and if you think you have an infection, DON'T PASS IT ON; tell your sexual contacts so that they can tell theirs, go and see your medical doctor or your local STD clinic, and refrain from intercourse until you are symptom-free.
If you trust a person enough to want to go to bed with them, have the courage to ask, perhaps with a half smile, 'Do you have anything I could catch?' If you cannot bring yourself to do this, at least check that your intended partner has no obvious signs of infection; the best place to do this, and the most fun, is in the bath or shower. Risk of infection can also be reduced by using a condom, whether this is necessary from the contraceptive point of view or not.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is responsible for a spectrum of conditions of which AIDS is only a part. These are: HIV positive (virus present in blood but no noticeable symptoms); Persistent Generalised Lymphadenopathy (PGL - lymph glands remain swollen and sometimes painful for at least 3 months following HIV infection); ARC or AlDS-related complex (a range of relatively mild signs and symptoms including seborrhoeic dermatitis malaise, fever, night sweats, profound fatigue, recrudescent acne, cold sores around mouth, shingles, weight loss, diarrhoea); and full-blown AIDS (symptoms include Fever, malaise, Headache, breathlessness, dry Cough, Oral Thrush, abdominal tenderness, Diarrhoea, swollen lymph glands, a subcutaneous form of Cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma, rapid Weight Loss, cerebral abscess, Fits, encephalitis, Meningitis, Pneumonia (including Pneumocystis carinii) Depression, psychotic illness, dementia, personality changes).
It is thought that HIV causes changes in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to malabsorption of one or several nutrients essential for immune function and absorption of microbes and microbe products not normally admitted into the bloodstream. Recently it has emerged that AIDS may be related to syphilis (see below); AIDS symptoms are similar to those of advanced syphilis and blood tests in AIDS patients are often positive for syphilis.
HIV is transmitted from person to person through blood and blood products, and through any bodily secretion especially semen. Groups most at risk are homosexual men and drug users who share needles; it is through drug use and bisexual behaviour, and through heterosexual relationships with people from countries where AIDS is endemic, that AIDS is slowly spreading into the heterosexual population. Where blood has not been properly screened and heat-treated, people receiving transfusions, organ transplants, or Factor VIII injections for haemophilia are at risk; babies can be infected during pregnancy, at birth, or through breast milk if mother is HIV positive. Prevention is the most important measure against AIDS .
About 30 per cent of people diagnosed as HIV positive develop AIDS within 7 years; the percentage of HIV positives who develop ARC within the same timescale is about the same; other people with the virus develop PGL or remain symptom-free. Everyone who has the virus can transmit it to others through activities which involve exchanging blood or body fluids; for most people, this means sexual activity, with some forms of sex being safer than others (see self-help measures below).
If you think you have been exposed to HIV or if you develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, see your medical doctor and ask for a blood test. If test is positive, most constructive approach is holistic; accept treatment (usually antibiotics) offered by medical doctor, adopt immunity-boosting habits, implement the self-help measures described below, and seek constitutional treatment from an experienced homeopath.
Self-help: Always use a condom during vaginal or anal sex. If possible, avoid surgery, blood products, and injections in developing countries or countries where AIDS is endemic. Never share razors, toothbrushes, or other articles which may have blood on them, burn sanitary towels or if this is not possible put them in a double bag, flush tampons down the lavatory, always cover wounds, and after accidents carefully wipe all blood off skin and furniture, then clean furniture with diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) using a disposable cloth, and carefully dispose of all swabs and dressings.
If a child is HIV positive, warn him or her against blood-mixing rituals, ear-piercing, tattooing, and giving blood in science classes. He or she should also be trained to take the precautions outlined above. The sharing of toys, and of pens and pencils which have been chewed or sucked, should be kept to a minimum. Currently no vaccine exists.
Various organizations offer information and support to AIDS sufferers and to those diagnosed as HIV positive.
Bacterial infection spread by oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse with person who is incubating infection or already has symptoms; condition is related to promiscuity and affects twice as many men as women; incubation period is 3-5 days, followed by discomfort when urinating and increasingly thick and copious discharge of pus from tip of penis; occasionally, however, the man may have no symptoms; in women, there may be no obvious symptoms, or unusual discharge from vagina. If rectum is infected, there may be a feeling of wetness inside rectum or pus in faeces; after oral intercourse, throat may feel sore. Unchecked, infection can spread, causing rashes and joint problems, Pelvic Infection, or stricture of the urethra (see Penis Problems).
If gonorrhoea is suspected, see your medical doctor or visit your local STD clinic immediately; if diagnosis is positive, take penicillin or other antibiotics offered, refrain from intercourse until you are symptom-free, then seek constitutional homeopathic treatment in order to boost resistance to further infection. There are specific remedies for treating gonorrhoea, but these should only be taken under guidance of an experienced homeopath.
Herpes (Herpes Genitalis)
Caused by same type of virus which causes Cold Sores around mouth; transmitted by oral-genital or genital-genital contact with someone who is incubating virus or who already has symptoms; virus incubates for about 10 days, then causes itchiness and crop of small blisters on penis or vulva; these quickly become moist and ulcerated, glands in groin become swollen and tender, and slight Fever develops; symptoms usually clear up within 2 weeks, but for 50 per cent of sufferers virus goes to ground in bundle of nerve cells at base of spine and causes further attacks, milder and less and less frequent, whenever health is below par. Herpes can be fatal to babies, so if infection is active at time of birth, baby will have to be delivered by caesarean section.
If herpes is suspected, see your medical doctor or visit your local STD clinic - an anti-viral ointment will probably be prescribed - and refrain from intercourse until ulcers heal. Alternatively, you can treat yourself, using the self-help measures and homeopathic remedies below. Constitutional homeopathic treatment may help to prevent recurrence.
Specific remedies to be taken 4 times daily for up to 14 days
- Bad ulcers which bleed, especially at night, whole genital area very tender and painful Sempervivum 6c
- Skin of genitals very dry, lesions hot and puffy, with pearl-like blisters Natrum mur. 6c
- Genitals burn and itch, discomfort aggravated by cold or damp, general restlessness Rhus tox. 6c
- Genitals burn and sting, skin cracked, with red, itchy rash Capsicum 6c
Self-help: Avoid intercourse during attack or if you feel tingling or tenderness which heralds an attack. Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching ulcers, and expose ulcers to air as much as possible. Ulcers can be bathed in Hypericum and Calendula solution (5 drops of mother tincture of each to 0.25 litre [½ pint] boiled cooled water) 4 times a day, or Calendula ointment can be applied. Frequent warm baths with salt added to the water are soothing and speed healing.
Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU)
Infection and inflammation of urethra due, in 45 per cent of cases, to organisms called Chlamydia, which are half way between a virus and a bacteria; in other cases cause of infection cannot be pinpointed. Three-quarters of sufferers are men. Infection is usually, though not invariably, spread through sexual contact and may take 1-5 weeks to incubate. In men, first sign is tingling sensation at tip of penis, especially after urinating first thing in morning; this is followed by clear discharge from penis, scanty at first, then thicker and heavier. In women, there may be no symptoms at all, or slightly increased discharge from vagina. It may be a cause of infertility and infection in neonates.
If infection is suspected, see your medical doctor or visit your local STD clinic at once; take antibiotics prescribed, and do not have intercourse until course of antibiotics is finished and you are symptom free; your partner should take antibiotics too, even if he or she has no symptoms. Constitutional homeopathic treatment is recommended after antibiotics.
Pubic Lice (‘Crabs’)
Crab-shaped species of louse about 2 mm (1/10 inch) long which lives in pubic hair and in hairs around anus, sucking blood and causing itching, especially at night. Adults move from one body to another during sexual contact, but symptoms of infestation may take several weeks to appear because eggs (nits) laid by adults take a week or two to hatch. If pubic. If pubic lice are suspected, see your medical doctor or visit your local STD clinic; a special cream or ointment will be prescribed to kill the lice, and you may be advised to shave pubic hair to get rid of nits, which cannot be removed by normal washing.
A combination of Conjunctivitis, joint pains (see Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis), and acute urethritis (see Cystitis) or Diarrhoea; probably due to an infection-triggered change in immune system; may be acute or chronic, and in majority of cases is sexually transmitted. Orthodox treatment consists of antibiotics in acute stage, and non-specific anti-inflammatory drugs. If the homeopathic remedy given below does not produce some improvement within 2 weeks, constitutional treatment should be sought. For self-help measures, see conditions mentioned above.
Specific remedy to be taken every 4 hours for up to 2 weeks
Bacterial infection transmitted during oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse. Though once a killer, disease is now very rare and is almost always cured before it reaches serious stage; two-thirds of sufferers are men, usually homosexual; blood tests in AIDS patients are also positive for syphilis. Incubation period is 9-90 days; first stage, highly infectious, is a painless sore or chancre on penis, anus, or vulva which disappears in a few weeks; second stage, also highly infectious and lasting for only a few weeks, is a non-itchy rash all over body, including palms of hands and soles of feet, accompanied by swollen lymph glands and moist warts around anus or under arms. Disease then becomes latent, but may re-emerge years later to attack heart valves and walls of arteries supplying brain and vital organs.
Any sores on penis, vulva, or around anus should be promptly investigated by medical doctor or local STD clinic; it is essential that antibiotics are taken, and that all sexual contacts are traced and treated; intercourse should be refrained from until course of antibiotics is finished and symptoms have disappeared. Afterwards, constitutional homeopathic treatment is recommended.