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:
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