Experts are warning women of a stealthy STI that is often missed but strikes one in 16 in some parts of the United Kingdom.
Trichomoniasis is more common than the well-known STI gonorrhea, experts found.
But not only is it relatively unheard of, it is not always included in standard STI “checkups” at sexual health clinics or at-home kits.
The NHS says to see a GP or sexual health clinic if you have symptoms of the illness, with both men and women affected.
However around half of those with it do not show any signs, and are able to spread it further.
Others may be mystified by their symptoms, which can be vague.
New research suggests that many women are carrying trichomoniasis without realizing – up to one in 16 women in some areas.
And it is disproportionately affecting women from racial minorities and those in deprived communities.
Dr. John White, Medical Director at Preventx and Consultant Physician in Sexual Health and HIV, said: “Trichomoniasis is a relatively unknown STI amongst the general population, but it can cause significant pain and discomfort.
“I know from the patients in my care that it can also cause a lot of emotional distress for the person infected too.
“Women, in particular, can remain infected for years – and their distressing symptoms are often misdiagnosed or dismissed.
“If untreated, TV [trichomoniasis] can also increase the chance of acquiring HIV in at-risk communities, as well as cause complications in pregnancy.”
The study involved 8,676 women across England.
Of them, 5,116 had experienced vaginal discharge – which is normal – and of them, 3.5 percent were positive for trichomoniasis.
They were considered symptomatic because one of the signs of trichomoniasis is discharge, which can be in excess, thick, thin or frothy, yellow-green, or smell fishy.
Rates were higher in women from Black, Black British, Caribbean, or African backgrounds (5.2 percent), but lower in white women (3.4 percent).
Almost six percent (one in 16) of symptomatic women in the most deprived communities tested positive, compared with 1.4 percent in the wealthiest women.
When looking at women without vaginal discharge, 0.8 percent of white British women tested positive.
But twice as many women from Black, Black British, Caribbean, or African background (2 percent), and three times as many from a deprived area (2.7 percent) tested positive.
“Our new data shows worryingly high positivity rates, with certain communities more affected than others,” Dr. White said.
Rates of trichomoniasis in women studied were higher than gonorrhea – 3.5 percent compared to 0.6 percent.
But gonorrhea is routinely tested for, while trichomoniasis is not.
Dr. White said trichomoniasis can be “easily diagnosed” outside of a clinic, and then easily treated with antibiotics.
He, therefore, said it was “vital” that more testing is carried out across the UK.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.