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April 16, 2012

April Is STD Awareness Month

April is STD Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the impact of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and the importance of discussing sexual health with one's health care provider and if sexually active, one's partners. Every year, more than 19 million new cases of STDs are reported in the United States, costing the U.S. health care system $17 billion. The immediate and long-term health consequences to individuals can be even more costly. Regardless of race or gender, data shows that sexually active teens and young adults are at an increased risk for STDs when compared to older adults.

"Fifty percent of new STD infections occur among young people ages 15 to 24, even though this group makes up only 25 percent of the sexually active population," stated Dennis Norfleet, MD, Oswego County Director of Public Health. "However, stigma, inconsistent or incorrect condom use, access to health care, and a combination of other factors contribute to high rates of STDs among teens and young adults."

The good news is that most STDs are treatable, and many are curable - early detection through testing is key. Chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States, and young people are most affected. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection spread through unprotected sex with someone who is already infected. Those with infections often do not have symptoms, so many infections go undetected and untreated. Untreated STDs can have severe long-term health consequences, particularly for young women, including chronic pelvic pain, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. A pregnant woman can also pass the infection to her child during the delivery.

"STD testing and treatment is one of the most effective tools available to protect one's health and prevent the spread of disease to others," stated Dr. Norfleet. In addition, Dr. Norfleet suggests the following to reduce your risks of getting or spreading a STD:

  • Talk with your health care provider about STDs and ask about recommended vaccinations and testing

  • Talk openly and honestly with your partners about STDs

  • Use condoms correctly and consistently

  • Avoid multiple or random partners and limit sexual activity

  • Know your partner's risk factors and sexual history

  • Use of drugs and alcohol limit your ability to make good sexual health decisions

The Oswego County Health Department offers the following services at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego:
  • HIV Testing: Mondays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

  • Pregnancy Testing: Call 349-3391 to schedule an appointment.

  • Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing and Treatment Services: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

For more information contact the Oswego County Health Department, weekdays, phone 349-3547

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