Get Tested; Get Treated! Sexually Transmitted Infections are Widespread, Effects Can be Long-Lasting

(CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) — April is Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month and the New River Health District wants to increase awareness of STIs. The health district offers free and confidential testing at offsite locations in Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties and the City of Radford. Testing is also available in the district’s mobile health unit, which travels throughout the district offering health services and outreach.

“Many topics of public health concern — including sexually transmitted infections — are surrounded by stigma. To curb the current trend of significant increases in STIs each year, we need to erase the stigma and embrace comprehensive sexual health education. We need to have open dialogue about safe sexual practices and encourage testing without isolating those we need to reach. Let’s begin changing the narrative now, for STI Awareness Month,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director of the New River Health District.

Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the U.S. every year. That’s one new infection for every 17 Americans. These infections cost the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone, according to a report by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). American’s youth shoulder a substantial burden of these infections. The CDC estimates that half of all new STIs in the country occur among young men and women age 15 to 24.

The high incidence of STIs in the general population suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to STIs, underscoring the need for prevention. Despite these sobering statistics, there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat STIs. Screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and the long term health consequences of STIs.

Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective in preventing STIs. All those who are sexually active – particularly young people – should be regularly screened for STIs, and get prompt treatment if infected.

For more information on STIs, including testing dates and locations, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/new-river/sti-hiv-testing or call 540-585-3355. For more information on the New River Health District, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/new-river or call 540-585-3300.

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