Show Them You Care…Get Tested!

For many people, the first half of February may be spent searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone. Cards, flowers, chocolates and little stuffed animals are often chosen declare our love for another, but one of the greatest gifts you can give your partner is health and peace of mind. Getting yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can ensure that you and the one you love both stay healthy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the United States there are more than 1 million new cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Individuals infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia may not experience any symptoms, and when left untreated, these infections can impact fertility. Untreated STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a cause of chronic pelvic pain, in women.

Human papillomavirus, more commonly known as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. The CDC reports that at least 50% of sexually active people will contract genital HPV at some time in their lives. Most of the time, the body’s immune system will fight off HPV naturally, and it will go away on its own within two years without causing health problems. In other cases, however, untreated HPV can stay in the body for many years and lead to certain cancers, most commonly cervical cancer.

Prevention

STDs can be prevented. When used correctly, condoms are very effective at preventing the transmission of STDs. The surest way, though, to prevent the spread of STDs is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship. You and your partner should both be tested for STDs and be known to be uninfected. Additionally, there is a vaccine available to prevent HPV. Speak with your health care provider or call CCHD at 454-6950 and ask to speak with a public health nurse to learn more about the HPV vaccine.

HIV/AIDS

Individuals infected with an STD are more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Getting tested for common STDs can help decrease your risk of contracting HIV and passing it on to your partner. Like with other STDs, those infected with HIV/AIDS may not experience symptoms. Testing is the only way to be sure that you are not infected and will not pass the virus to your partner. CCHD offers low-cost or free and anonymous HIV counseling and testing.

Show Your Loved One That You Care! Get Tested!

This Valentine’s Day, you can show your loved one that you care about their health and peace of mind by getting tested for STDs. Since many STDs may have no noticeable symptoms, testing is the surest way to find out if you are infected and, in effect, the best way to ensure that you do not unwittingly pass an infection on to your partner. CCHD offers testing and treatment for many common STDs on a sliding fee scale. Testing can find STDs early, when treatment is most effective.

To learn more, visit CCHD’s Communicable Disease program or www.cdc.gov for more information.