According to the American Sexual Health Association, one in two sexually active persons will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by the age of 25. April 12-18 is STD Awareness Week, a time to reflect on how we can all promote good sexual health behavior, especially by getting tested for STDs as part of the choice and process of being sexually active. The only way for a sexually active person to know whether they have an STD is to get tested. Three common STDs—chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—are surging across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Young people are especially hard-hit.
“The consequences of STDs are especially severe for young people,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “Because chlamydia and gonorrhea often have no symptoms, many infections go undiagnosed and this can lead to lifelong repercussions for a woman’s reproductive health, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.”
Untreated STDs can also increase a person’s risk of getting HIV or passing an additional STD to a partner already living with HIV. Early detection through testing is key to avoiding these consequences, yet research has shown many adolescents don’t talk with their doctors about sexual health issues at all during annual health visits.
Getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things a person can do to protect their health, but it’s not the only thing. Knowing the facts, using condoms, having open, honest dialogue about STIs with potential partners are also important behaviors to reduce the risk of contracting STDs.
To make an appointment for STI testing, call (240) 777-1760 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov. Also refer to AAHP’s calendar to determine when AAHP will resume HIV testing at Dennis Avenue Health Center and Progress Place.