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Take charge of your sexual health by getting tested for STDs
April 22, 2019
SOLANO COUNTY – April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month. It is essential to know about STDs and how prevention and testing are critical to overall health.
STD Awareness Month is not just about awareness, but also about action. Solano Public Health officials, along with health officials in the Bay Area, are urging everyone who is sexually active, especially young people, to take charge of their sexual health. Young people and men who have sex with men are at a higher risk for STDs and should get tested more often.
Testing is now more crucial than ever as STD rates continue to rise, increasing steadily in Solano County and statewide since 2013. Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea continue to grow, and syphilis has re-emerged as a significant public health concern. In California, 283 infants were born with syphilis in 2017.
Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported diseases in California. This disease, like most STDs, is easily preventable and treatable but can cause serious health problems such as infertility if left untreated. In Solano County between 2013 and 2017, chlamydia rates rose by 26 percent. Most cases are in young women. National statistics indicate that one of every two young people will have an STD before age 25.
"The health problems caused by STDs can be severe, in part because there may be no visible symptoms," said Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer. “If left untreated, these problems can lead to chronic pain or reproductive health issues. If you are sexually active or pregnant, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about STD testing and know which tests may be right for you."
Barriers exist to people obtaining health care and seeking preventive care, including racial inequity, poverty, and stigma. In the case of an untreated STD, there can be some severe consequences. Fortunately, there are many tools besides testing to prevent STDs, including HIV. Young people can get vaccinated for human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the most common STD and can cause cervical cancer. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), consisting of taking one pill a day, effectively prevents HIV.
Additionally, practicing safe sex, using condoms, and talking to partners about sexual health are important in STD and HIV prevention. Solano Public Health is initiating a condom distribution and education drive throughout the Solano Community College campuses so that students can easily access STD prevention information.
The Solano County Family Health Services clinics in Fairfield, Vacaville, and Vallejo offer no-cost to low-cost STD screenings. To find additional free or affordable confidential testing sites, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov.