April is STD Awareness Month. Do you know your status?

Talk. Test. Treat. Those are three simple things you can do to protect your health. Most people don’t really want to talk about sexually transmitted diseases, but the truth is that a hidden epidemic of STDs is happening in this country now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 million new infections happen each year, and that there are now more than 110 million sexually transmitted infections in men and women in the United States.

What are some of the most common STDs in Idaho?

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been on the rise in Idaho for the past several years. Idaho’s local health departments reported sharp increases in gonorrhea and syphilis cases in 2014-2015, and a high number of cases continue to be reported this year. The good news is that most sexually transmitted diseases are preventable, treatable, and even curable when they’re caught early. But you must be tested and diagnosed. If you are sexually active and haven’t been tested, now would be a good time to make an appointment with your doctor or visit a clinic to discuss your options.

Who is most at risk?

STDs affect people of all ages, but sexually active young people ages 15-24, and gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men are most at risk and should take precautions like using condoms and getting tested regularly. More than half of the STD cases in the U.S. are in people younger than 25.

There are probably a lot of different symptoms for each STD, but are there general things to watch for?

Many STDs don’t cause any symptoms, actually, so the only way you know your status for sure is to get tested.

How do I know which tests I might need?

You should talk to your doctor about the tests you might need, but make sure you ask. Many doctors won’t give HIV or STD tests unless you ask for one. If you are not comfortable talking to your regular doctor about getting tested, there are many clinics that offer confidential and free or low-cost testing.

Are the tests painful?

They’re actually quick, simple and usually painless. Rapid HIV tests can provide results from a swab in the mouth in as little as 20 minutes. Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea can be as simple as peeing in a cup, and several places in Idaho now offer rapid syphilis testing, which can provide results in 10 minutes.

What can happen if you have an STD and you don’t get tested?

If not diagnosed and treated, some STDs can lead to serious health problems. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, for example, can cause infertility issues in men and women if left untreated. And your chances of getting HIV increase if you have genital herpes, syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Where can I find a clinic so I can get tested?

You can visit http://nakedtruth.idaho.gov/ to find testing sites in your area and  learn more about STDs. STD testing is often covered by health insurance, and some health centers and local health departments offer reduced pricing based on income. Know the facts, and get yourself tested!


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