STD Month call to action: Talk, Test, Treat
Take action to counteract rise in sexually transmitted infections
Anyone who has sex can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and we all can help reverse the four-year trend of sharp increases in STIs in Colorado. Public health is calling on people to "Talk, Test and Treat" to protect themselves and their partners.
Between 2013 and 2017, Colorado saw a 23 percent increase in the rate of chlamydia, a 182 percent increase in the rate of gonorrhea, and a 68 percent increase in the rate of syphilis. These are record-setting highs for Colorado.
“Across Colorado, these data mean our work is more important than ever, and we all can get involved,” said James Stewart, manager of the STI/HIV/Viral Hepatitis Branch. “Community leaders, health departments, community-based organizations, health care providers and individuals all can take action at work, in our schools and communities, and at home to make a difference.”
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are curable with the right medicines, yet most cases go undiagnosed and untreated. This can lead to severe health problems that include long-term pelvic or abdominal pain, inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications, and increased risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV.
Tell moms-to-be ...
The number of childbearing-age women with syphilis has been increasing as well, leading to a rise in syphilis in newborns. Colorado has had 13 cases of congenital syphilis since 2013. Up to 40 percent of babies born to women with untreated syphilis may be stillborn or die from the infection as a newborn, or they may have lifelong severe problems, such as blindness or deafness.
Tell young folks ...
Young people are being especially hard hit with the three common STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. In fact, because reported cases account for only a fraction of the national burden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 15- to 24-year-olds account for half of all new sexually transmitted infections each year. Colorado is no exception. Research shows many adolescents don’t talk with their providers about sexual health at all during annual health visits. Let’s work to change that. CDC’s Get Yourself Tested website is a great place to start.
Tell everyone to Talk. Test. Treat.
Here’s what to do:
- Talk openly with partner(s) and health care providers about sexual health and STIs.
- Get tested. Because many STIs have no symptoms, getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an infection.
- If you test positive for an STI, work with your doctor to get the correct treatment. Some STIs can be cured with the right medication; those that aren’t curable can be treated.
- Find out more about how to Talk, Test and Treat.
STI, STD ― What’s the difference?
For practical purposes, the terms are used interchangeably. Diseases spread through sexual contact traditionally are referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But “disease” suggests a clear medical problem, and some of the most common STIs have no obvious symptoms. The virus or bacteria is causing an infection that may or may not result in disease. Our department's STI/HIV/Viral Hepatitis Branch uses the term STI; however CDC continues to use the term STD. So yes, we’re talking about STIs during STD Awareness Month. It’s the same thing.