Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are a topic no one wants to talk about. Not with a doctor, a partner, or even a friend. However, the stigma surrounding STDs is only adding to the problem. In 2017, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released data showing 2.3 million diagnosed cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, an increase of over 200,000 cases from 2016. These are the three most common STDs that the CDC received data on, and while all are curable with antibiotics (for now), many times they go untreated and lead to more severe health issues such as infertility and increased HIV risk.
Missing from that list is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is now so common that physicians say it’s not if you’ll get it, but when. For most cases, an infection is cleared up by the body on its own and doesn’t lead to any additional medical issues. However, HPV can lead to cervical, vulval, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers in both men and women. It is also the leading cause for most of these cancers.
The best way to protect yourself from STDs is to be proactive. The CDC recommends these tips for taking control of your sexual health:
- Be honest with your healthcare provider about your sexual activity
- Get tested and treated for any STDs to avoid further health issues down the road
- Get re-tested to be certain of your status
- Communicate with your partner(s) and be honest about your status
By taking control of your health and being honest with partners and your healthcare provider, an STD does not have to be a death sentence. This month and every month, take the time to know your status and make steps towards a healthier you. If you need more information on protecting yourself against STDs, please view credible resources, such as Planned Parenthood or the CDC. Suwannee River also has CE/CME trainings on HPV and the HPV vaccine that you can access for free on our website.
|Ashley is currently employed at SRAHEC as a Professional Education Coordinator.|