Sexual Infection and Disease
Did you know that more than half of all Americans will get a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Ironically, STIs often occur with few or no symptoms. The subtle distinction between an STI and an STD—disease actually causes a symptom. One reason the infection rate continues to rise across a spectrum of age and race is that in the absence of symptoms and unsafe sexual practices, people continue to unwittingly infect one another.
Consider the following sobering statistics:
•An estimated 19 million Americans acquire sexually transmitted infections each year.
•People of color and young people (between 15 and 24 years of age) have a disproportionately higher number of STIs, due largely to socioeconomic factors.
•According to a 2008 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were a record number of Chlamydia and syphilis cases. Chlamydia rates increased 9.2% from 2007 to 2008, with 1.2 million cases reported in 2008 while reported rates of syphilis jumped 18% between 2007 and 2008.
•Although the CDC cited recent statistics that the infection rate among those 55 and older has remained relatively stable, a 2008 study reported in Time magazine suggests otherwise. Researchers at the West Highlands Health Protection Agency discovered that the rate of STDs among those 45 and older had more than doubled over a decade. Researchers highlight a number of factors for this phenomenon, including a lack of sexual knowledge and less consistency in using condoms because the risk of pregnancy has passed.
Getting the facts and knowing your treatment options is an important step to achieve sexual health. Whether it is seeking the services of a local clinic or a trusted physician, April is a good month to get started. Increase awareness of STI issues from two critical fronts:
First—getting educated about and practicing safer sex reduces the likelihood of infection. The CDC notes that the consistent and correct use of male latex condoms can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of STD transmission. Using barrier methods for all sexual activity, not just intercourse, is critical.
Second—getting tested. Patients should get tested if they have unprotected sex or change partners. Even patients in seemingly monogamous relations should get tested—many cheating partners do not wear protection. Growing populations of HIV/AIDS patients are married women.
Don’t become another statistic. Ask your doctor or clinician about safe sex practices, or uncover the information through trusted, health-related sites on the internet, such as the CDC, Planned Parenthood, or the American Social Health Association. Get tested if you suspect you may have an infection or simply want to put your mind at ease. Untreated STDs may lead to cervical cancer for women, brain and oral cancer for men and infertility issues.
Comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sexual health information and services should be accessible to everyone. This facilitates informed decisions and smart lifestyle choices that will enhance the health and well being of sexually active individuals and as their partners.
- www.ashastd.org/news/news_pressreleases_cdcstddata.cfm (American Social Health Association)
- www.cdc.gov/ (Centers for Disease Control)
- www.plannedparenthood.org/ (Planned Parenthood)
For more info, contact Planned Parenthood Mar Monte at (775) 688-5555, or (775) 829-1122 or www.ppmarmonte.org.