Sexually active young people are encouraged to participate
Local health officials are calling for sexually active young people to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, also referred to as STIs, during STI Testing Day in Minnesota on April 25. STI Testing Day began in 2015 exclusively in Minnesota as a way to heighten the awareness about the epidemic levels of STIs and to encourage STI testing.
“We are seeing state record numbers of STIs reported in Minnesota, particularly among those between the ages of 15 and 24,” said Amy Van Den Einde, RN, PHN. “The Minnesota Department of Health reported that nearly 29,000 cases of bacterial STIs occurred in 2016 such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. A record high of 22,675 Chlamydia cases were reported alone. And this isn’t the only reason we are actively promoting testing on this day. One third of those cases occurred in greater Minnesota, which includes Polk County.”
STIs pose a serious public health threat and can lead to serious health consequences. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility in women and men and can be passed from an infected woman to her newborn children, causing premature delivery, infant pneumonia and blindness. Untreated gonorrhea can spread to organs and joints leading to life-threatening conditions. Untreated syphilis can cause blindness, mental illness, dementia and death.
“Since most STIs don’t show symptoms, it’s important for sexually active persons to get tested each year or when involved with a new partner,” Van Den Einde explained. “Testing, diagnosing and treating these diseases in their early stages will prevent long term health consequences and prevent their spread.”
Sexually active persons interested in getting free or low cost STI testing can go to the following locations in Polk County on April 25.
Polk County Public Health- 816 Marin Ave 2 to 8 p.m.
UMC Student Health (UMC students, staff, faculty)- Sargent Student Center Health Office
2 to 4 p.m.
Other locations offering no or low cost STI testing for the observance are listed online on the Community Restoring Urban Youth Sexual Health (CRUSH) website at: http://www.facebook.com/crushsti.
Local health officials noted that STIs can be prevented by abstaining from sexual contact, limiting the number of sexual partners, always using latex condoms during sex, and by not sharing needles for drug use, piercing or tattooing. Partners of STI infected patients also need to get tested and treated to prevent re-infection or spread to others.
For confidential information about the prevention and treatment of STIs and testing locations, call the Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline at 1-800-78-FACTS (voice or TTY), 651-645-9360 (Metro area), Text ASKMN to 66746, or visit their website at http://sexualhealthmn.org.