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Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

Home Technical Guidelines Other Topics Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Emergencies

Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Emergencies

During emergencies, changes in the behavior and emotional condition of people reflects the need to relieve tensions which build up while the emergency continues. Sexual gratification is a relatively common way for some adults to relieve stress. Studies show that at high levels of tension and anxiety, the search for sexual activity can become compulsive. This compulsion can even lead to acts of sexual aggression, directed chiefly against women, children, the elderly, and handicapped persons. It can occur in the home, in public, or in shelters or temporary refuges. There is the further consideration that regular measures for epidemiological control of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and for the clinical management of AIDS cases, can be temporarily disrupted. Thus it is necessary to act swiftly and decisively to prevent the transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS.

With a view to reducing the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, the following activities should be included among the chief points to consider in the preparation of emergency responses:

  • Intensify the promotion of protective measures. It is indispensable that the population be advised of the fact that during emergencies the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases increases, and also on how to take appropriate protective measures.
  • Confirm the existence of and promote the ongoing application of national standards for the prevention, control, and clinical care of cases of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
  • Confirm the availability and adequate distribution of latex condoms and water-soluble lubricants both in medical units, and in shelters and temporary refuges.
  • Determine the need for such drugs and supplies as are required to provide for at-risk areas.
  • Confirm that medical units are able to give special attention to prenatal care and delivery for pregnant women infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • Insofar as possible, establish health care services with trained staff in the shelters and temporary refuges.
  • Promote the provision of water containers and disinfection supplies, in such a way as to provide for female personal hygiene.
  • Take the precautions needed to ensure the availability of safe blood stocks for obstetric care and traumatological emergencies.
  • Ensure that educational supplies are available at all times concerning reproductive health activities, so can be drawn on for health promotion activities if needed.


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