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April is STD Awareness Month

By Gretchen Smith

March 29, 2019

The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognizing April as STD Awareness Month.

According to the CDC, the number of sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases are at an all- time high, which means that people who are sexually active are also at risk for infection. 

“While Flagler County was recently ranked the 9th healthiest county (according to the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool), tracking and reducing sexually transmitted infections remains a key area of focus for Flagler,” said Robert Snyder, Health Officer for DOH-Flagler. “To prevent the spread of STDs or STIs, we’re asking residents to remember the 3T’s: Talk, Test and Treat. Talk to your partner and healthcare provider about risk factors and methods to reduce your chances of getting an STD, get tested, and get treated if you’re infected, to avoid additional health problems or further the spread.”

Syphilis infection rates have spiked in all regions of the country and across almost every ethnicity and age group. Some populations, such as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, and women are seeing higher increases than other groups. Cases of congenital syphilis (babies born with syphilis) are also increasing at a considerable rate. Having syphilis also makes it easier to get HIV and Hepatitis C.

DOH-Flagler Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel sees the increase in STDs as a challenge the DOH continues to address. “STDs pose complex and daunting challenges for public health. There are many types, some more serious than others, and a lot of factors at work. The challenge is not only in treating patients when they present with STDs but reaching the community at risk to educate and motivate them to adopt safe sex prevention practices. Clinicians, scientists, and educators are tackling these challenges on the local, state, and national levels to get this problem under control and we are hopeful for a meaningful breakthrough soon."

To prevent the spread of all STDs, including syphilis, DOH-Flagler provides screening, counseling, treatment and partner notification services to persons infected with or suspected of being infected with STDs.

Here are a few things sexually active individuals can do to lower their chances of infection:

  • Be in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for syphilis and other STDs;
  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex;
  • Talk to your health care provider about getting testing for syphilis and other STDs or locate a clinic near you for free, fast and confidential testing;
  • If you test positive for syphilis or other STDs, get treated right away and be sure your sexual partner is treated as well to reduce the risk of re-infection.

FREE TESTING

The DOH-Flagler will offer free STD/HIV testing Tuesday, April 2 from 8AM to 10:30AM. No appointment is necessary, but a photo ID is required.

(Note: HIV rapid and syphilis rapid tests require finger sticks. Gonorrhea and chlamydia tests are urine, Aptima kits and results will be available in 10 working days.)

For more information call 386-437-7350 ext. 7091 or visit the CDC’s webpage.

About the Florida Department of Health

The Department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

For information about the Florida Department of Health in Flagler, go to flagler.floridahealth.gov, call 386-437-7350, or visit 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell.