During STD Awareness Month, Maryland urges residents: ‘Talk. Test. Treat.’
Baltimore, MD (April 14, 2016) – April is STD Awareness Month. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene joins the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in encouraging individuals and health care providers to take three simple steps to protect the health of patients and their partners: “Talk. Test. Treat.”
“Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), continue to pose a major threat to the health of Marylanders,” says Health and Mental Hygiene’s Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services, Dr. Howard Haft. “Our data show that both chlamydia’s and gonorrhea’s infection rates have increased in Maryland, and that rates of syphilis are persistently high. We can’t reverse these trends without talking about STIs, testing for them and making sure people are appropriately treated.”
TALK: Individuals can help protect themselves and their sex partners by talking to them and to health care providers about STIs and sexual health. Although health care providers can find talking about sexual health challenging, studies show that patients want to be asked about their sexual health.
TEST: Many STIs have no symptoms. Testing is the only way to know if you have an STI. Individuals can call their local health department to ask about low-cost or free STI testing, or can go to gettested.cdc.gov to find a testing location near them.
Health and Mental Hygiene, in collaboration with its training partners, is offering a free, live webinar for health care providers, “Developments in STI Testing and Implications for Practice,” on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The webinar will cover the newest advances in STI testing, including point-of-care tests and rapid tests. To view the webinar, log on to www.jhsph.edu/maphtc at the time of the live webcast.
Health and Mental Hygiene also is urging Marylanders who have traveled to countries where the Zika virus is being actively transmitted – the Caribbean, Central American countries and South American countries – to not engage in unprotected sex or to abstain from sexual activity if their partners are women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant. While the CDC states that the virus is transmitted primarily through mosquito bite, transmissions have been known to occur through sexual contact. The Zika virus has been linked by the CDC to birth defects in cases where pregnant women became infected. For more information about the Zika virus, visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.
TREAT: Many STIs can be cured; for those that cannot be cured, treatment can alleviate symptoms and can reduce the likelihood of transmission. Health care providers can find the most current recommendations for treatment in the CDC’s “2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines” (www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015).
For information about talking to partners and health care providers about STIs, about finding STI testing and treatment locations, and about getting appropriate STI treatment, go to the Health and Mental Hygiene website: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDPCS/CSTIP/.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH andwww.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.