Sexually transmitted diseases are a significant challenge in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 19 million new STD infections occur every year in the United States, nearly half of these cases among people between the ages of 15-24. Each of these infections is a potential threat to an individual’s immediate and long-term health and well-being. In addition to increasing a person’s risk for HIV infection, STDs can lead to severe reproductive health complications in women such as infertility. The CDC recommends annual Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening for all sexually active females 25 years of age and younger and women older than 25 years of age with risk factors such as new sex partners or multiple partners. The CDC also recommends annual screening once a year for Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV for all sexually active gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). (CDC, 2012)
Chlamydia is the most prevalent STD in North Carolina. Most women with Chlamydia have no symptoms. Left untreated, 10-15% of women will develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Both men and women can develop complications from Chlamydia that can lead to sterility. Symptoms of Chlamydia include discharge and painful urination. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD. Men with this infection can experience symptoms, including penile discharge and burning with urination. Many women can also experience the same symptoms, but the symptoms are generally milder. Gonorrhea infection is also treated with antibiotics. Data is now revealing a troubling rise in Syphilis infections in North Carolina among men who have sex with men (MSM). New diagnoses of Syphilis among the MSM population now account for nearly 72% of all primary and secondary Syphilis cases. If this infection is not adequately treated, it can lead to visual impairment, stroke, brain/spinal cord damage and in rare cases, even death. (CDC, 2012)
There are measures than can be taken to prevent the spread of these STD infections. STD infections can be prevented by abstinence, using a condom each and every time you have sexual intercourse, and being in a monogamous relationship (one sexual partner). You can protect yourself from these infections if these measures are followed. Condoms are available to the public here at the health department, Monday through Friday 8-5am, free of charge and with no questions asked.
The Sampson County Health Department offers free STD screening and treatment services Monday through Thursday 8-11am and 1-4pm and on Friday’s 8am-11am. Appointments are encouraged or clients can feel free to walk-in for services. All visits are confidential. If you have any questions or concerns about STD infections, feel free to contact the Sampson County Health Department at (910) 592-1131, ext. 4972.
STD trends in the United States. 2011 National Data for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis (Aug 2012). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.