STD Awareness Campaign Encourages People to Treat Themselves Right

April is STD Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Treat Me Right. I Matter. My Health Matters.” The purpose of this year’s theme is to encourage patients and health care providers to work together to beat sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Over two million new cases of STDs were reported in the United States in 2016, which was the third year in a row that STD rates increased. In particular, gonorrhea cases increased by 18.5%, and syphilis cases increased by 17.6%. During 2017, almost 700 new STD cases were reported in Barry and Eaton counties.

If left untreated, STDs can lead to long-term abdominal or pelvic pain, inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications, and an increased risk of giving or getting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Both patients and health care providers have a role to play in treating STDs. Here are important actions that patients and providers should take:

Patients can:

  • Learn more about what STDs are, how they are spread, and how to protect themselves at https://goo.gl/6JZFzC.
  • Look for a doctor who treats them with respect, listens to their opinions and concerns, encourages them to ask questions, explains things in ways they understand, and recommends preventive services, such a STD screening tests.
  • Talk with their health care provider about their sexual health. Patients should bring it up if their provider doesn’t.
  • Get tested for STDs, and, if needed, get treated.
  • Find additional questions they may want to ask their health care provider at https://goo.gl/5SdkVH.

Health care providers should:

  • Engage their patients in a way that makes them feel heard and respected.
  • Deliver care that is aware of, but not biased by, differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural background.
  • Take a thorough sexual history, and use this to determine what STD testing is needed.
  • Follow the CDC’s STD Treatment Guidelines when patients are diagnosed with an STD. The guidelines are available at https://goo.gl/2rJPWB.

Everyone should know the facts on STDs and get tested! The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) offers confidential testing and treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well at HIV screening. Residents can learn more about STDs at http://www.cdc.gov/std/ or call BEDHD at (269) 798-4133 in Barry County or (517) 541-2630 in Eaton County.

Article posted on April 10th, 2018.