Broome County Promotes STD Awareness

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Shaun did not think he had a problem until he got notified that he had been exposed to chlamydia. His girlfriend tested positive on a routine screening. Fortunately they were both treated, as well as being tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Shaun and his girlfriend, Lucille each blamed the other for this infection.

They did not realize that each of them had previous partners who were infected in past years. Because they had no symptoms, they did not know they were infected. Unfortunately, Shaun's ex-girlfriend had a tubal pregnancy because her chlamydia was never treated. The only way she would have known she was infected was to be tested.

Every day, an estimated 125 New York teens and young adults (15-24 years) are diagnosed with chlamydia and 25 are diagnosed with gonorrhea. These are part of the estimated 9-10 million new STD infections among 15-24 year olds in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) pose a serious public health threat to Americans, and cost an estimated $15.3 billion per year.

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In Broome County there were 468 cases of chlamydia identified in 2008. Syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts and herpes are also local problems.

STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women. Many STDs can increase the risk of HIV transmission, for both men and women. In New York State (excluding New York City), chlamydia is the most common reportable disease, with 68,725 reported cases in 2006, an increase of 6.5% from 2005. The number of primary and secondary syphilis cases also continues to increase, with 736 cases reported in 2006, over four and a half times as many cases as in 2000.

Many STDs can be treated or cured. STD testing and early diagnosis is critical to prevent serious health complications and further transmission of the disease. Screening is particularly important since many STDs have no signs or symptoms. CDC recommends annual screening for chlamydia for sexually active women under the age of 26. Sexually active teenagers and young adults should be screened for STDs, including HIV. CDC also recommends that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots, be fully vaccinated against HPV, a virus know to cause cancers and genital warts.

Vaccination for hepatitis B is recommended for all sexually active teenagers and adults who have not previously been vaccinated. Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination is also recommended for men who have sex with men, even if they do not consider themselves gay.

The Broome County Health Department conducts STD Clinics on Tuesdays. Services are without charge to all Broome County residents. Residents are seen on a walk-in basis from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. HIV testing is also offered without charge to anyone seen in the STD Clinic. The Broome County Health Department uses rapid HIV testing. Results are known in 10-20 minutes.

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