At a time when STDs are at a record high, it’s never been more important to protect your sexual health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has named April as Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month.
STDs are diseases that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and HIV. Many of these do not show symptoms for a long time, but even without symptoms, they can still be harmful.
Anyone who has sex is at risk, but some groups are more affected: young people aged 15-24, gay and bisexual men, and pregnant women. STDs are common, especially among young people. There are about 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States. About half of these infections are in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Young people are at greater risk of getting an STD for several reasons:
– Young women’s bodies are biologically more prone to STDs
– Some young people do not get the recommended STD tests
– Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives
– Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult for young people to access STD testing
– Some young people have more than one sex partner
If left untreated, STDs can cause an increased risk of getting or giving HIV, long-term pelvic or abdominal pain, and inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications.
Here are three easy steps you can take to slow or prevent the increase in STDs:
1. Talk – talk openly about STDs with your partners and healthcare providers
2. Test – get tested. It’s the only way to know if you have an STD
3. Treat – if you have an STD, work with your provider to get the right medicine
For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov to find out more about this year’s awareness campaign Treat Me Right.
Having a strong patient-provider relationship is always important, and the stronger those relationships are, the weaker STDs will become. Your doctor can prescribe medicine to cure some STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Other STDs can’t be cured, but you can take medicine to help with the symptoms.
Fayette County Memorial Hospital has multiple outlets for STD testing: through the Women’s Wellness Center, the Primary Care offices and the Same Day Care Clinic. Staff at any of these locations would be happy to answer your questions and provide testing. Any of these offices can be reached by calling 740-333-3333.