"TALK. TEST. TREAT."
Perfect theme for the CDC's 2016 STD Awareness Month! We can't have AWARENESS if no one is talking about these diseases. And because these diseases are mostly SILENT, you can't have AWARENESS that you have an STD unless you TEST for it.
The Bad News:
- Sexually transmitted infections affect over 20 MILLION Americans every year, and young people ages 15-24 make up over HALF of these cases.
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise for the first time in a decade.
- Gonorrhea is more difficult to treat because it has become very resistant to antibiotics
- Curable bacterial STDs, if not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, can have lasting impact by causing chronic pelvic pain or even infertility.
- Young people are the least likely to get tested and treated for numerous reasons, including ignorance that their non-intercourse sexual activities can transmit STDs, fear and embarrassment of telling their parents, inability to pay for or access healthcare on their own.
The GOOD News:
- Many of these infections are preventable, and testing is easier than ever (no pelvic exam required in most cases- only a urine test for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and a blood test for HIV and syphilis).
- Gardasil vaccine prevents the vast majority of genital warts and HPV-related cancers.
- Hepatitis B vaccine prevents Hep-B related cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Proper and consistent condom use greatly reduces transmission of most STDs.
I have found that sharing stories (with accurate medical information) is a powerful tool for teaching about sexually transmitted infections. Check out the newly released second edition of Seductive Delusions: how everyday people catch STIs.
BOTTOM LINE: TALK.TEST.TREAT and learn how you can help spread KNOWLEDGE and stop the spread of DISEASE.