Summer Is Coming, And So Are Higher STD Risks
March 26th, 2004
By Ken McGrath :eCureMe Staff Writer
April 14th, 2004 : Physician Reviewed
It’s not as easy to see as sunburn, but as summer rolls around, your risk
of developing an STD may be climbing with the temperature. A host of research
that has been building since summer suggests certain STDs are transmitted in
different patterns, and can have an easier time developing in the body, during
The risks are inseparable from two of the things Americans love most about
the season: vacationing and soaking up the sun.
As millions take to the skies and roads seeking a break in the routine, they
may be more likely to pick up a souvenir they hadn’t planned on.
A survey of British visitors to a Spanish resort, published last winter,
found that substantial numbers of those who sample the local nightlife during
their travels have unprotected sex with a partner they’ve just met on
vacation. One in four men and one in seven women reported they had sex with
more than one person during their stay. One in ten men and just less than one
in twenty women reported six or more partners.
This relaxing of sexual behavior while traveling can lead to more infections,
as well as infections that are more difficult to treat. One in twelve men
surveyed reported that he had sex with a foreign partner while away from home.
Previous research has found that when men who have sex on vacation contract
gonorrhea from a foreign partner, the bacteria that causes the disease is more
than twice as likely to be resistant to treatment than if they had contracted
it at home.
However, even sex that doesn’t occur on vacation can be more risky during
the summer. A recent review of data on the incidence of Human Papillomavirus
(also known as Genital Warts) presented to the American Association of Cancer
Research found that diagnoses of the disease reach a peak during August,
which also happens to be the sunniest month in the area where the data was
collected. Detection of the virus fell sharply in September, as fall started to
roll in. Connecting this phenomenon with other data, researchers found that
the spike in genital warts cases wasn’t the result of people having more
sex. The answer? The researchers hypothesized that women were being exposed to
a constant level of infection year-round, but during the summer their
increased exposure to sunlight reduced their immune reactions, allowing more
cases to take hold. While it may sound far out, there’s evidence to back
it up. Sunlight has been shown to inhibit the body’s production of
certain antibodies, among them T-cells that bolster the immune system.
Previous research has also hinted at a connection between the sun’s
rays and herpes transmission.
So when you hit the beach this summer, remember to pack the sunscreen, turn
off your cell phone and practice safe sex.
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