The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are more than 19 million new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the United States each year, the Ionia County Health Department said.
The infections have the potential to cause serious health problems, especially if not diagnosed and treated early. Young people ages 15-24 account for half of all new STIs even though they represent just 25 percent of the sexually active population, according to a health department news release.
CDC analysis reveals that the annual number of new infections is roughly equal among young women and young men. 49 percent occurs among young men vs. 51 percent among young women.
Four of the STIs included in the CDC analysis are easily treated and cured if diagnosed early: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. However, too many of these infections go undetected because they often have no symptoms, the release said.
Undiagnosed and untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can put a woman at increased risk of chronic pelvic pain and life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and also decrease a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant later in life, the release said.
The CDC estimates that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) accounts for the majority of newly acquired STIs. While the vast majority, 90 percent, of HPV infections will go away on their own within two years, some will lead to serious diseases such as genital warts and cervical cancer.
Most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives. This means that everyone is at risk for the potential consequences of HPV and many would benefit from the protection that the HPV vaccine provides, it said.
HPV vaccines are routinely recommended for 11 or 12 year-old boys and girls and protect against some of the most common types of HPV. The CDC recommends that all teen girls and women through age 26 get vaccinated, as well as all teen boys and men through age 26.
HPV vaccines are most effective if they are provided before an individual ever has sex.
Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective STI prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines and free condoms are available at the Ionia County Health Department.
If you suspect that you have an STI, confidential testing and treatment is also available at the health department. Appointments are accepted Monday through Friday by calling 616-527-5341, extension 295. More information regarding ICHD is available at http://www.ioniacounty.org/health-department/.