Any time of year is a good time to think about STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) Prevention. STD’s are passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact, such as heavy petting, and from sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. STDs are very common. In fact, the CDC estimates 20 million new infections occur every year in the United States. STDs can mostly be prevented by not having sex. STDs do not always cause symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. That is why it is important to get tested if you are having sex. If you are diagnosed with an STD, know that all can be treated with medicine and some can be cured entirely.
The most common sexually transmitted disease in Meigs County is Chlamydia with Gonorrhea following closely behind. These diseases are only two of a long list of commonly spread diseases of which are sexually transmitted. Because of the consequences of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea if left untreated, this article focuses on them.
Chlamydial infection is the most frequently reported infectious disease in the United States, and prevalence is highest in persons aged less than 24 years. Several sequelae can result from Chlamydia infection in women, the most serious of which include PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Some women who receive a diagnosis of uncomplicated cervical infection already have subclinical upper-reproductive–tract infection. Asymptomatic infection is common among both men and women. To detect chlamydial infections, health-care providers frequently rely on screening tests. Annual screening of all sexually active women aged less than 25 years is recommended, as is screening of older women at increased risk for infection, such as those who have a new sex partner, more than one sex partner, a sex partner with concurrent partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection. Although CT incidence might be higher in some women aged less than 25 years in some communities, overall the largest burden of infection is among women aged greater than 25 years.
In the United States, an estimated 820,000 new Gonorrhea infections occur each year. Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported communicable disease. Urethral infections caused by Gonorrhea among men can produce symptoms that cause them to seek curative treatment soon enough to prevent sequelae, but often not soon enough to prevent transmission to others. Among women, gonococcal infections are commonly asymptomatic or might not produce recognizable symptoms until complications such as PID have occurred. PID can result in tubal scarring that can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
These two STD’s we have discussed here are just two of dozens of STD’s that can be prevented from being transmitted by simply using condoms. Just a few of the others are HIV, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Genital Herpes, and others.
If you do have sex, you can lower your risk by using condoms and being in a sexual relationship with a partner who does not have an STD. The Meigs County Health Department provides condoms to anyone free of charge during normal business hours. Anyone can come in and pick up a bag of condoms between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with no questions asked.
Sherry Hayman, RN, is a public health nurse for the Meigs County Health Department.