Growing STD burden emphasizes need for screening

WYOMING – The rate of gonorrhea infections has increased six fold from 2012 to 2016. And it’s not just Wyoming, and it’s not just gonorrhea.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise everywhere in the US. The increased infection rate is creating a growing burden in Wyoming and across the nation, particularly among younger individuals, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

“This kind of growth is not something to unique to our state,” said Courtney Smith, communicable disease surveillance program manager with WDH. “Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in the United States every year and the numbers tell us youth and young adults bear a substantial percentage of these infections. In fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all new STDs occur among young men and women aged 15 to 24.”

April is STD Awareness Month. In recognition of that, WHD is trying to spread the word about risk and prevention. Smith said there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat STDs. “STD screening, early diagnosis and timely treatment are essential in preventing STD transmission and long-term health problems,” she said.

Because many people infected with an STD do not have any symptoms, testing is important. Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies.

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