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Commentary & Opinion

Time for Talk, Tests on STDs

April 19, 2010

"Many Americans were shocked in 2008 when [CDC] announced that at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the direct medical cost in the United States for treatment of STDs is about $14.7 billion a year.

"It is estimated that nearly 19 million new cases of STDs occur each year, and that by the age of 25, one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD. Most of them won't even know it. How does this happen? It happens because we are reluctant to talk about STDs.

"The time has come to get talking and get tested. That's why Planned Parenthood has joined with MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and CDC in a campaign to raise awareness about the need to get tested during National STD Awareness Month in April. Together, we are breaking down the barriers to talking about STDs and getting tested.

"Many men and women avoid testing because they believe they are not at risk, fear having positive results, or are afraid the test will be painful. Others are worried about confidentiality, stigma or the cost.

"The facts are that testing is easy and painless, all STDs are treatable, and most are curable. However, left untreated, some STDs can be fatal. Further, most STDs have also been associated with increased risk of HIV transmission.

"Yet, because STDs often show no symptoms, many of those infected don't know it. That is why an open dialogue with health care professionals, parents, and partners is so important. Testing is a positive thing to do to protect your health, and health care practitioners work hard to educate their clients and to counsel them without shame and with the utmost respect for privacy.

"This month, take a deep breath. Then get yourself talking and get yourself tested -- you owe it to yourself and your loved ones."

The author is a West Virginia field organizer for Planned Parenthood Health Systems Inc.

Back to other news for April 2010

Adapted from:
Charleston Gazette (W.V.)
04.13.2010; Kira Miskimmin

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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