This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Carson City, it’s time to talk about something personal, it’s time to address a taboo subject. Sexual health is part of overall well-being, and we need to have “the talk.” Don’t be embarrassed. Carson City Health and Human Services is joining with providers across the country to observe National STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Awareness Month, and we want you to join us, too.
STIs are so much more common than people realize. Every year, 20 million people are infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Take a peek behind the numbers, though, and you’ll find real, flesh and blood people. Most of them have (or have had) an STI and never knew it. Over half of those infected are young people aged 15-24, which highlights the need for better education and prevention efforts.
The best way to avoid the negative health outcomes and stress associated with sexually transmitted diseases is to avoid being infected in the first place. Abstinence — choosing to not have sex — is the only 100 percent effective way to keep from getting an STD or having an unwanted pregnancy. However, for the many people who are sexually active there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of becoming infected — and spreading — an STI.
To protect your health and the health of your partner or partners, use protection with every partner, every time. When used correctly, condoms are a good choice for preventing the spread of STDs. Also, limit the number of partners you have to reduce your risk of getting an STD.
Most STIs have no signs or symptoms, so if you have one, it’s easy to pass an infection along to your partner without knowing it. Additionally, even STDs with no symptoms can cause long-term health consequences, like certain types of cancer and infertility. Getting tested is the only way to know for certain if you’re infected. If you’re infected with an STI, knowing about your infection can help you receive the treatment you need to stay healthy.
Testing is recommended annually or whenever you have a new partner. Convenient, confidential, affordable STI testing is offered at both Carson City Health and Human Services and Douglas County Community Health with an appointment. To schedule an appointment for STI testing, call the Carson Clinic at 887-2195 or the Douglas Clinic at 782-9038. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.