April is Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month and that means the annual Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign is in full swing. This national campaign is a youthful, empowering, social movement to reduce the spread of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) among young people through: 1) information; 2) open communication with partners, healthcare providers, and parents; and 3) testing and treatment as needed. The GYT campaign was developed as part of “It’s Your (Sex) Life”, a longstanding public information partnership of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The fact is that 1 in 2 sexually active people will get an STD by the age of 25. Most won’t know it. In 2011 in the state of Michigan, there were 39,067 new cases of Chlamydia, 8,908 new cases of Gonorrhea, and 172 new cases of all Syphilis in youth under 24 years old. Here in Washtenaw County, the latest available statistics from 2011 are that there were 1,061 new cases of Chlamydia, 164 new cases of Gonorrhea, and 5 new cases of Syphilis in youth under 24 years old. These numbers only reflect the information available from completed testing. There are a number of people who are infected but do not know they are, and therefore, do not get tested or treated.
As of January 2013, the estimates are that there are approximately 97 youth in Washtenaw County and 3,213 youth in Michigan under 24 years old with reported HIV/AIDS.
The only way to find out if you have a Sexually Transmitted Infection is to Get Yourself Tested. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia tests are done by collecting a urine sample. HIV tests are done by using an oral swab to collect a sample. Both samples are sent to a laboratory for testing. Treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea are simple one time dosage of antibiotics. Positive HIV infections are referred to specialists for further assessment and plan of care.
The RAHS health centers offer education and the opportunity to “get tested” to all of their patients every day. The nurse practitioners and physicians work with their patients to develop safe/safer sex behaviors to decrease the risk of STIs and pregnancy. Part of safe sex education is knowing the signs and symptoms of infection and also when to get tested. Patients 12 years old and older can consent for testing without parental permission.
In April, as part of GYT month, the RAHS health centers will be campaigning via texts and posters for all students who are sexually active to GET YOURSELF TESTED.
Local Resources for STI Testing and Treatment
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