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(Placerville, CA) - April is National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month. The Public Health Division of the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency is reaching out to the community during the month of April to provide information about STDs, risk factors and ways people can protect themselves and those around them.
"Sexually transmitted diseases are more common that people think and can create long term health problems if left untreated, including infertility," said Michael Ungeheuer, RN, MN, PHN, Public Health Deputy Director. "Our goal is to raise awareness, especially among people who may not know they are at risk."
According to Ungeheuer, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common types of STDs among those tested in El Dorado County. In 2018, approximately 500 chlamydia and 100 gonorrhea infections were identified in the county. In addition, a total of 19 cases of syphilis, including one case of congenital syphilis (a baby born with syphilis), were identified in El Dorado County in 2018.
Syphilis rates have been rising across California in recent years. This is concerning because syphilis infection can have serious complications for adults or their offspring if untreated. Babies born with syphilis infections can have problems such as cataracts, deafness, or seizures, and can die. Fortunately, syphilis can be cured with the right treatment.
Young people are more likely to get an STD compared to older people, but anyone can be at risk. Risk factors for getting an STD include:
The risk of getting an STD can be reduced by using condoms, dams or other barrier protection during sex; limiting the number of sexual partners; avoiding recreational drug use and excessive alcohol use; and refraining from sex completely.
Not everyone who has an STD has symptoms. In fact the most common symptom of an STD is no symptom at all. The only way a person can know if they have an STD is to get tested. Pregnant women are routinely tested for STDs during the first trimester of their pregnancies. In addition to pregnant women, the following individuals are especially encouraged to be tested for STDs:
STD testing is typically conducted at a doctor's office or health clinic, though some people use on-line and home screening kits. Ungeheuer advised that home collected specimens can have higher false-positive results, and show that a person is infected when they actually are not.
"If a home STD test is positive, contact your health care provider or the public health clinic to confirm the result," said Ungeheuer. "El Dorado County Public Health offers confidential STD screening, evaluation and treatment in Placerville and South Lake Tahoe. We are an expert resource for education and prevention of communicable diseases including sexually transmitted infections."
For more information about STDs, visit www.std.ca.gov. For more information about El Dorado County Public Health Clinical services, visit www.edcgov.us/publichealth.
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