Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have been on the rise in Lake County, the State of California and the United States.
Three common STDs have increased sharply across the United States for the fourth year in a row. To help reverse this trend, the County of Lake Public Health Department is calling on individuals and healthcare providers to take these three actions to protect themselves, their partners, and their patients from STDs: Talk, Test, and Treat.
From 2013 to 2017, Lake County has seen a 67 percent increase of chlamydia (157 cases to 263) and a 644 percent increase of gonorrhea (25 cases to 186). Lake County is currently ranked 4th in the state out of 58 counties for rates of gonorrhea. More than two million cases of STDs combined were reported nationwide. Congenital syphilis—syphilis passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery—has also dramatically increased.
“Across the nation, these data mean our work is more important than ever – and we can all get involved,” says Gail Bolan, MD, Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “CDC and other federal organizations, community leaders, health departments, community-based organizations, health care providers, and individuals can all take action at work, in our schools and communities, and at home to make a difference.”
Untreated STDs Can Have Serious Effects
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are curable with the right medicines, yet most cases go undiagnosed and untreated – which can lead to severe health problems that include infertility (inability to become pregnant), ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb), stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk.
Anyone who has sex can get an STD, but some groups in Lake County are more affected than others: those who have substance abuse, young people ages 15-24 and those who are experiencing homelessness. Prior studies suggest a range of factors may be at play – from socioeconomic challenges, like poverty, to issues of stigma and discrimination.
“With the dramatic rise in STIs since 2013, it is vital for all people in Lake County to talk openly with their partners about STIs, get tested regularly especially if you have multiple partners, and if you test positive for an STI, talk with your doctor to make sure you get the right treatment,” states Erin Gustafson, M.D., MPH, Lake County Public Health Officer. “Many STIs have no symptoms, and can cause long-term consequences if untreated, which can lead to serious health problems including infertility,” Dr. Gustafson adds.
Here’s how individuals and healthcare providers can add the Talk.Test.Treat strategy into their health routine:
• Talk openly with partner(s) and healthcare providers about sex and STDs.
• Get tested. Because many STDs have no symptoms, getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an infection.
• If you test positive for an STD, work with your doctor to get the correct treatment. Some STDs can be cured with the right medication. Those that aren’t curable can be treated.
Healthcare providers can
• Providing the best care possible means talking with patients about sexual health and safe sex practices.
• Test patients as recommended by CDC.
• Follow CDC’s STD Treatment Guidelines to make sure patients get successful treatment and care. CDC offers a free app for Apple and Android devices, so that you can access the guidelines from wherever you are.
April is STD Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about what STDs are, but it’s also a time to take action to protect your own health, or the health of those around you – whether they be a partner, a loved one, or a patient. Visit the official website for more information on how you can talk, test, and treat.