Pennsylvania health officials are reporting increases in sexually transmitted infections (STI) and officials want everyone to be educated on the dangers of STIs and the importance of getting tested.

Treponema pallidum spirochete/CDC

The Department of Health reports cases of Chlamydia have increased by 25 percent from 2007 to 2017 and cases of Gonorrhea have increased by 17 percent during the same time. Syphilis cases have increased by nearly 300 percent; from 263 in 2007 to 792 in 2017.

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In response to the significant uptick in syphilis cases among young adults, the department recommends special testing precautions for all pregnant women in the following counties: Allegheny, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Indiana, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, McKean, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and York counties. The department recommends pregnant females in the impacted counties be offered a test for syphilis in the following situations:

  • At the third trimester of pregnancy;
  • At the delivery of a child; or
  • At the delivery of a stillborn child.

This recommendation comes in addition to the statewide requirement for syphilis testing of all pregnant woman at the time of the first prenatal examination.

There are a number of ways to lower your risk for getting STIs. They are:

  • Abstinence: The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral);
  • Choosing one partner and agreeing to be sexually active only with each other. It is still important that you and your partner get tested for STIs and HIV, and share your test results with one another before having sex;
  • Limiting the number of people you have sex with if you have more than one partner; and
  • Using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex.