State and local public health officials are concerned about a recent increase in cases of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. In 2014, Montana’s gonorrhea cases nearly doubled, to over 400, and the number of chlamydia cases increased to over 4,100.
Many STDs are easy to cure, however, if undiagnosed and untreated complications can occur. “I can’t emphasize enough that these particular STDs are all preventable,” said Judy Nielsen of the DPHHS STD-HIV Prevention Section. “In addition, STD screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and the long term health consequences of STDs.”
Common complications can include infertility and conditions such as herpes or gonorrhea can increase a person’s chances of getting HIV.
At least half the cases reported in 2014 occurred in young people aged 15 to 25. Half of the estimated 20 million STDs that occur in the United States each year are among young people under the age of 25. Despite this news, there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STDs. Public health officials offer the following advice to anyone who may be at-risk for an STD.
Not having sex is the only way to prevent STDs. For those who are sexually active, DPHHS recommends these steps to lower the risk of getting STDs, such as:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and does not have STDs.
- Limiting the number of people you have sex with if you have more than one partner.
- Using latex condoms every time you have sex.
- Getting the vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can protect you against diseases (including cancers) caused by the human papillomavirus.
- Talk with your health care provider about your sexual history so that he or she can provide you with the appropriate STD testing and prevention guidance. If you’re not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider, contact one of the clinics listed at the websites below about confidential and free or low-cost testing.