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    Adrienne Ton, Nurse Practitioner
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    8 minutes read
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    Dec 15, 2022
    sexual health
    5 Things to Know During STD Awareness Week
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    Happy National STD Awareness Week!

    By Adrienne Ton, Nurse Practitioner

    Happy National STD Awareness Week! It may seem odd to have the words “STD” and “happy” in the same sentence (we get it!). But as healthcare providers, we see this time as a happy opportunity to encourage people to find out more about their bodies and take charge of their health.

    STDweek is an annual spring event hosted by the CDC that is dedicated to increasing awareness about sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs).

    As a healthcare provider, I see a lot of people who are affected by STIs. Maybe they’re worried about having one, because of some odd discharge they noticed. Maybe they have ongoing treatment for an STI such as HIV. Sometimes they have had one in the past and wanted to make sure it was gone after treatment. Perhaps they are getting tested during pregnancy to prevent pregnancy complications. Most people are affected by STIs in some way throughout their lifetime. So in honor of #STDweek, we are sharing 5 things your healthcare provider wants you about STDs below.

    1. STIs are common and they’re on the rise.

    Getting an STI doesn’t mean you deserve a scarlet letter. It just means that you had sex with someone who also had an STI. Unfortunately, STIs are often stigmatized. However, the reality is that 1 in 5 people has an STI in the United States. If you have had an STI or currently have one, you are certainly not alone.

    People get STIs at all stages of life. While STIs tend to be more common in younger people ages 15-24, we are also seeing a rise in STIs among older adults from 2000 to 2019, like those ages 55 and up. If you’re wondering, the answer is yes - that means rates of infection are increasing among your parents’ generation and maybe even your grandparents’ generation.

    2. The COVID19 pandemic has impacted both the transmission of STIs and our detection of STIs.

    We don’t have all the information about STI trends - especially in 2020 because of the COVID19 pandemic. However, we do know that most STIs are increasing in prevalence.

    During the COVID19 pandemic, particularly in 2020, people weren’t getting screened much and as a result, we are missing information. Healthcare clinics closed, transitioned to telehealth services, or started reducing their access to preventive health visits. In addition, there were major shortages on testing supplies and jobs that help with STI monitoring were shifted to focusing on COVID19.

    We also saw that with more shelter-in-place, quarantine, or social distancing measures, people may have been less sexually active. However, it’s also possible that those who had STIs but had no symptoms may have been spreading infections because they couldn’t get tested and didn’t know they had them.

    Bottom line: Even though we don’t have all the info because of some limited information due to the COVID19 pandemic, we do know that STIs are still spreading (so get checked out!).

    3. STI’s are preventable. And even though abstinence is technically the best way to avoid getting STI’s, there are also other very effective ways to help prevent STIs such as the following.

    • Know your status. Get tested regularly (whether you are having symptoms or not), especially if you’re having sex with different people. Tests might be a little uncomfortable - but STI’s are usually more uncomfortable.
    • Talk to your partner(s) about their status. This may be a little awkward, but it’s worth it for your health and your partners’ health. Maybe you can even get tested together.
    • Condoms! Condoms are an effective way to help limit transmission of most STIs.
    • If you’re at higher risk for getting exposed to an infection like HIV, talk to your healthcare provider about starting PREP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a medication you can take every day that helps prevent you from getting this infection

    4. Most STD’s are treatable.

    Many STIs have serious consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease - if left untreated.

    While there are some STIs that don’t have a cure (aka a way to get rid of an infection entirely), there is some kind of treatment that can help control most STIs.

    For example, with the miracles of modern medicine, people are living long, healthy lives with HIV today. Getting screened means that you can get connected with a treatment plan before more serious consequences arise.

    5. Sexual health is a part of your overall health. You deserve to have the best health possible. This includes healthy, satisfying, and respectful physical relationships.

    Getting tested and talking to your healthcare provider about your sexual health and wellbeing is just as important as getting your blood pressure checked or your heart and lungs listened to. We aren't here to judge you.

    Having this information helps you learn more about your body and helps you make good decisions for yourself and for your relationships.

    Resources & Where to Learn More

    This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD HEALTH INC.

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