Health Dept. Highlights Impacts During STD Awareness Month

Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur in the United States every year costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone, says a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

America’s youth shoulder a substantial burden of these infections. CDC estimates that half of all new STDs in the country occur among young men and women aged 15 to 24.

Melody Helmkamp, director of the family planning program at BCHD says “The mission of the program is to provide not only family planning services but to include education and counseling so that informed decisions can be made regarding sex, contraception, and STD’s.”

The high incidence of STIs in the general population suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to STDs, underscoring the need for prevention.

Despite this news, there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STDs. STD screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and the long-term health consequences of STDs.

The medical services provided by the professionals at BCHD include physical exam, pap smear, breast cancer screening, STD testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. All services are confidential and a minor doesn’t have to have parental consent for services. Other items such as blood pressure, height, weight, urine hematocrit and pregnancy tests are available as well. The family planning clinic isn’t just for females, males are welcome as well.

Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause disease and cancer. And for all individuals who are sexually active – particularly young people – STI screening and prompt treatment (if infected) are critical to protect a person’s health and prevent transmission to others. More information about STDs is available by calling Bond County Health Department at 618-664-1442 or by visiting www.cdc.gov/std.

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