April is STD awareness month: Get tested and protect your health

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your doctor and ask whether you should be tested for STDs. If you are not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STDs, there are many clinics that provide confidential and free or low-cost testing.

Below is a brief overview of STD testing recommendations. STD screening information for healthcare providers can be found here.

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.

You can quickly find a place to be tested for STDs by entering your zip code at gettested.cdc.gov.

Sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States

Recently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States. Protect your baby from congenital syphilis by getting tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How common is CS?

After a steady decline from 2008–2012, data show a sharp increase in CS rates. In 2017, the number of CS cases was the highest it’s been since 1997.

Public health professionals across the country are very concerned about the growing number of congenital syphilis cases in the United States. It is important to make sure you get tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

I’m pregnant. Do I need to get tested for syphilis?

Yes. All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at the first prenatal visit (the first time you see your doctor for health care during pregnancy). If you don’t get tested at your first visit, make sure to ask your doctor about getting tested during a future checkup. Some women should be tested more than once during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about the number of syphilis cases in your area and your risk for syphilis to determine if you should be tested again at the beginning of the third trimester, and again when your baby is born.

Keep in mind that you can have syphilis and not know it. Many people with syphilis do not have any symptoms. Also, syphilis symptoms may be very mild, or be similar to signs of other health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have syphilis is to get tested.

Is there treatment for syphilis?

Yes. Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If you test positive for syphilis during pregnancy, be sure to get treatment right away.

If you are diagnosed with and treated for syphilis, your doctor should do follow-up testing for at least one year to make sure that your treatment is working.

Find out more on the CDC Website.

Meth abuse driving spike in syphilis cases?

From HealthDay News

A startling increase in syphilis cases among Americans may be linked to addiction to methamphetamine and other drugs, federal health officials said Thursday.

Between 2013 and 2017, the rate of syphilis infection among heterosexual men and women who use methamphetamine more than doubled, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

“While we don’t know the precise role that substance use may play in syphilis increases, we do know that substance use, particularly methamphetamine and injection drug use, has been associated with sexual behaviors that increase risk of acquiring syphilis and other STDs,” said lead researcher Dr. Sarah Kidd. She is a medical officer in the CDC’s division of STD prevention.

It is the risky behaviors that tend to go along with drug use that make one vulnerable to STDs, Kidd noted. These include having multiple sex partners, practicing inconsistent condom use, and exchanging sex for drugs or money.

“We also know that substance use can hamper prevention efforts,” Kidd added. People who use drugs may be less inclined to seek health services, and they may also be reluctant or unable to identify or locate sex partners, which can cause delays in diagnosis and treatment, she said.

Read the full article.