Three common STDs—chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—are surging across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Young people are especially hard-hit. In fact, because reported cases only account for a fraction of the national burden, CDC estimates 15-24-year olds account for half of all new sexually transmitted infections each year. Texas is no exception. In 2018 alone, there were 93,136 reported cases of chlamydia, 23,403 reported cases of gonorrhea, and 2,976 reported cases of syphilis among this same age group.
“The consequences of STDs are especially severe for young people,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “Because chlamydia and gonorrhea often have no symptoms, many infections go undiagnosed and this can lead to lifelong repercussions for a woman’s reproductive health, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.”
Untreated STDs can also increase a person’s risk of getting HIV, or passing it to a partner if they’re living with HIV.
Early detection through testing is key to avoiding these consequences, yet research has shown many adolescents don’t talk with their providers about sexual health issues at all during annual health visits.
GYT: Get Yourself Tested
Enter GYT: Get Yourself Tested – a youth-focused campaign that encourages STD testing.
GYT helps young people understand that STD testing is quick, simple, and usually painless. It also underscores the importance of having open and honest conversations with their healthcare provider about their sexual history to ensure they get the right STD tests and other critical information about prevention.
Those who are not comfortable talking with their regular healthcare provider about STDs can access CDC’s online testing locator to find a convenient testing site that is free or low cost.
Getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things a person can do to protect their health, but it’s not the only thing. There are several ways to prevent STDs. The most reliable way is to not have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal), but there are many other tried-and-true options: talking openly with partners and healthcare providers about STDs; using condoms the right way from start to finish; and reducing the number of sexual partners. Those who test positive for an STD should get treated right away – and be sure their partner is also treated to lower the risk of getting infected again.
Visit the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign website for more information on STD testing and prevention.
Know the Facts:
- You can’t tell someone has an STD just by looking at them.
- STDs often have no symptoms. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested.
- STD tests aren’t always a part of a regular doctor visit—you may have to ask for tests.
- Almost all STDs that can be spread via unprotected vaginal sex can also be spread through unprotected oral and anal sex.
- Birth control methods like the pill, patch, ring, and IUD are very effective at preventing pregnancy; condoms protect against pregnancy and
- STD testing is a basic part of staying healthy.