This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Talking about sex might seem a little racy for the newspaper, but it’s really nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, it’s important to share the facts about STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases). Carson City Health and Human Services is joining with providers across the country to observe National STD Awareness Month, and we want you to join us, too.
Getting an STD isn’t uncommon, so why are we still so uncomfortable talking about it? The fact is that, among sexually active people, half will have one or more STDs by the time they are 25 years old. Every year, 20 million people in the United States are infected with an 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 STD 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 STD.
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. Although some STDs, like syphilis and genital warts, cannot be completely prevented by condom use, many common STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be prevented by using condom.
The more people you have sex with, the higher your risk for of contracting an STD. That’s why it’s important to limit the number of people you have sex with to reduce your risk of getting an STD, and to talk to your partners about their STD status.
Speaking of STD status, do you know yours? 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 are infected. If you are infected with an STD, 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 clinic at 775-887-2195. For information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.