Sexually transmitted diseases on the rise; prevention and testing are essential

April is STD Awareness Month.
April is STD Awareness Month.

Dr. Robert Wool

More than 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year, and more than 2 million cases of the three nationally reported STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) were reported in the United States last year alone; the highest number ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The good news is that STDs can be prevented and are easy to treat. However, routine testing and prompt treatment are essential.

Many people who have an STD don’t know it because they often don’t have signs or symptoms. If left untreated, STDs can lead to serious health problems. The only way to know for sure whether you have an STD is to get tested.

STD Prevention and Treatment

Effective prevention strategies include: abstaining from sex; practicing mutual monogamy with an uninfected partner, reducing the number of sexual partners; and consistently using condoms. Vaccines are available to help prevent hepatitis B and some of the most common forms of HPV (human papillomavirus).

Antibiotics can cure chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis; without treatment they put men, women and infants at risk for severe, lifelong health problems, chronic pelvic pain, infertility and other reproductive problems, HIV infection, and even death. Syphilis, which was nearly eradicated about a decade ago, is on the rise, and can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.

We urge all of our patients who are sexually active to make annual STD screening and timely treatment part of their routine health care. We encourage open dialogue so you are aware of your health risks and can take the steps necessary to reduce them. Some people may be embarrassed to talk to their health provider about STDs, but there is no shame in taking steps to ensure your health; our main goal is to provide the best possible health care.

If you have any questions about STDs or need testing, call us for an appointment.