April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month, an annual observance to raise public
awareness about the impact of STDs on the lives of Americans and the importance of preventing, testing for
and treating sexually transmitted diseases.
This year’s theme focuses on tackling the dangerous resurgence of Syphilis. Reported cases and rates for
primary and secondary syphilis are the highest they have been in more than 20 years. Syphilis incidence is
particularly severe among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).
Young people, ages 15 to 24 account for approximately 50% of STD infections. Each year, nearly 20
million new cases are diagnosed and the annual cost of diagnosing and treating STDs is $16 billion.
Untreated STDs can lead to infertility. African Americans are disproportionately affected by STDs.
You can lower your risk for getting STDs by choosing one partner and agreeing to be sexually active only
with each other. Limit the number of people you have sex with and use condoms the right way every time
you have sex. It is also important that you and your partner get tested for STDs and HIV and share your test
results with one another before having sex. Your behaviors can raise or lower your risk for STDs. Not
having sexual intercourse is the most effective way to prevent these diseases.
STDs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts (HPV), Hepatitis B,
Trichomoniasis and HIV. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite. The germs that cause STDs hide in
semen, blood, vaginal secretions and sometimes saliva. Most of the organisms are spread by vaginal, anal or
oral sex, but some may be spread through skin contact. You can get Hepatitis B by sharing personal items,
such as toothbrushes, with someone who has it. Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer, is
the most common STD. There is a vaccine to prevent HPV and a national campaign is in place to increase
the rates of HPV vaccination. Nursing Division staff will be visiting providers’ offices to educate their staff
on the importance of HPV vaccination. They will provide tools for the provider to dispel parental fears and
encourage patients HPV vaccination for their children.
To increase awareness about STDs, visit http://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Nursing-
Division/Sexually-Transmitted-Disease-Clinic or https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm.
The Niagara County Department of Health STD clinic is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00 A.M. to
3:00 P.M. For information, call 278-1900.