MAYVILLE - April is STD Awareness Month. As such the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health division reminds all of this opportunity for individuals, doctors, and community-based organizations to address ways to prevent some of the nearly 20 million new sexually-transmitted diseases that occur in the United States each year.
More than 25 diseases can be passed through any type of sexual activity, including oral, vaginal and anal sex. The most common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV, genital warts), hepatitis and HIV.
Teenagers and young adults are more at risk for contracting an STD. Other risk factors include having sex with a partner that has an STD, having sex with multiple partners; and using drugs or alcohol. The Health Department recommends that people talk with their health care providers about vaccines for HPV and Hepatitis A and B, currently the only STDs with effective vaccines to prevent infection.
Some STDs can be treated and cured, but others cannot. Many people with an STD do not show any signs or symptoms of infection. Because some STDs can cause serious and permanent damage if left untreated, sexually active people should routinely get tested for STDs so they can get prompt treatment.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 9 million to 10 million new STD infections every year among 15-to 24-year-olds in the United States. The CDC recommends consistent contraceptive use and routine screening to prevent STD transmission. People who are sexually active should use latex or polyurethane condoms every time they have vaginal, oral or anal sex, which will greatly reduce the risk of contracting or spreading an STD.
Getting tested is an important first step to getting medical care, counseling and support. Contact the Chautauqua County Health Department with questions or to schedule your STD screening appointment at 1-866-604-6789.