TDH Highlights Health Impacts of Sexually Transmitted DiseasesApril is STD Awareness Month
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sexually transmitted diseases are preventable and treatable, yet they remain a major public health issue in Tennessee and across the United States. April is STD Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the impact of STDs on the lives of Tennesseans and the importance of discussing sexual health with health care providers and partners.
“Working together to build awareness will help prevent the spread of STDs throughout the state of Tennessee,” said TDH STD Prevention Director Leo Parker. “Unfortunately, many of those who are infected don’t know it because many STDs show no signs or symptoms. This April, TDH is placing special emphasis on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of getting tested and treated.”
STD Burden in Tennessee
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are approximately 20 million new cases of STDs in the U.S. each year with a sharp increase in infections in the last five years. Young people including those in Tennessee shoulder a considerable burden of these diseases:
Chlamydia – In 2017, the highest rates of Chlamydia infections in Tennessee were reported among 20-24 year olds, followed by 15-19 year olds. There were 13,644 cases reported among 20-24 year olds for a rate of 3,052 cases per 100,000 people in the age group. There were 9,947 Chlamydia cases reported among 15-19 year olds for a rate of 2,341 cases per 100,000 people.
Gonorrhea – In 2017, the highest rates of Gonorrhea infections in Tennessee were reported among 20-24 year olds, followed by 15-19 and 25-29 year olds. There were 4,063 Gonorrhea cases reported among 20-24 year olds for a rate of 909 cases per 100,000 people.
There are effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat STDs. Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies to decrease the risk of becoming infected. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of human papillomavirus or HPV, which can cause disease and cancer.
Get Tested and Treated
STD screening and early diagnosis are essential in preventing transmission and long-term consequences of infection. Regular STD screening and prompt treatment of any infection are critical for everyone who is sexually active to protect individual health and prevent transmission to others.
Being aware of your and your partner’s status is the most reliable way to avoid the risk of infection with an STD. Testing is available at all Tennessee county health departments at low or no cost to patients. To find a health department in your area, visit www.tn.gov/health/health-programareas/localdepartments.html. To find other local testing sites, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/.
Learn more about STDs, your risk and how to prevent them at www.cdc.gov/std.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.