Nineteen-year-old Ashwini Khanna’s (name changed) life turned upside down when she underwent a routine gynaecological check-up. She was tested positive for the human papillomavirus, putting her at risk of developing cervical cancer.The college student went to her doctor when she experienced pain in her vagina, after having unprotected sex.
“It is unfortunate but true. Many young girls have tested positive for this virus, which is a precursor for cervical cancer. There is no cure for this virus. All we can do is keep screening her, if the cancer develops we will treat her for it,” said Dr Rishma Pai, gynaecologist, Lilavati hospital.
Doctors say that the number of young girls with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) has shot up immensely in the past year.
“Most girls tell us that they took emergency contraception and encouraged their boyfriends to leave the condom. Girls think only in terms of pregnancy but they don’t know what kind of diseases they can get. I have never seen the number of herpes virus infections that I am seeing now,” added Pai.
In the past year, the sale of emergency contraception has gone up by 300 per cent, according to the Retail and Dispensing Chemist Associa-tion of Maharashtra.
Though exact figures aren’t known, doctors report that condom usage has gone down. The increasing casualness about sex and multiple partners worsens the problem.
“The seriousness of using a barrier protection is being lost on both girls and boys,” said Dr Suchitra Pandit, gynaecologist, Kokilaben Dhirubai Ambani hospital.
Dr Ashwini Gandhi, gynaecologist at Hinduja hospital, said: “Though I have seen infections that are mild and not so serious, what these girls don’t know is these infections can lead to infertility if it enters the fallopian tubes or uterine cavity,” she added.
Doctors feel condom usage must be promoted more aggressively and advertisements of emergency contraception should stress on STDs.
“People focus too much on avoiding a pregnancy and simply forget the other precautions,” said Dr Vanita Raut, gynaecologist, Hiranandani hospital.
“Most of the blame for more infections would be on increased risk-taking behaviour by replacing emergency contraception for regular condom usage,” she said.
“The packets should tell girls they are putting themselves at a risk of serious ailments by taking it regularly,” she added.