The greatest wealth is health

Primrose Ndlovu
THE World Health Day is a global awareness day celebrated on 7 April anually and as the day was celebrated around the globe, some turned their minds to sensitive yet largely ignored diseases that plague the world.

Some of these diseases include STIs which, although largely acknowledged, are still a grey area for many. Gone are the days when men boasted of having sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as a sign of manhood as the adage in IsiNdebele goes a�?indoda ibonakala ngamanxeba ayo.a�?

People visit the New Start centre frequently for HIV testing and counselling. Testing negative to some of the partners becomes the gateway to unprotected sex as they believe they will be clear of the virus, forgetting that there could be another monster in the form of an STI waiting to pounce on them.

Being HIV negative does not necessarily mean one is clear from one or more STIs. Many a times when people use condoms to protect themselves from getting the killer virus, they use contraceptives that hinder a�?a�?unwanteda��a�� pregnancies but none of which act as barriers to STIs.

Much attention has been given to other diseases but interviews with members if the public revealed that there is little knowledge on STIs and how dangerous they are to humans as some of them cause insanity, blindness and even death.

Sexually transmitted infections or diseases are not given much attention to an extent that local New Start centres do not cater for STIs although they conduct screening for diseases such as cancer.

Umguza district in Matabeleland North had the highest number of people infected with STIs with most of the patients turning to traditional herbs as they believe the herbs clear infections more effectively than clinical medicines.

Partners get infected with countless STIs that are many a time left untreated especially among females as they do not show obvious signs sometimes, hence increasing the chances of infecting their partner.

Many people confessed that they are aware of the presence and the rising infections of STIs but as long as there are no symptoms or signs they would not bother go for STI tests, instead opting for HIV and cancer testing.

a�?I had gonorrhoea and I used the herbs my healer gave me and it went away, none of my partners has ever complained of me infecting them, the herbs even improved my strength in bed,a�? said Mark Sambano.

Some turn to private institutions for treatment as they shy away from getting treatment at local clinics as they will be familiar with the staff. The demand to bring a partner is also a bitter pill to swallow for most as some infections will be a result of once off encounters.

a�?I could not afford to go to the local clinic as the queues are too long and Ia��m familiar with the workers,a�? said one lady who preferred anonymity.

STI testing is done to most pregnant women in order to protect the unborn baby. It is also done in local clinics and in the countless medical laboratories through a swab test and or a full blood test and even a pap smear.