It’s no secret to most Minnesotans that sexually transmitted disease (STDs) are a big problem for communities across our state. What is surprising is that despite national efforts to raise awareness around the STD epidemic, encourage annual testing, and educate the public about prevention, more and more Minnesotans are getting STDs every year.
Last month, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released its annual report on STDs. According to MDH, the overall rate of STDs in Minnesota has increased by 10% since 2011, with a 7% increase in Chlamydia, a 35% increase in gonorrhea, and a 15% decrease in syphilis. Adolescents, women between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, and African-Americans are disproportionately effected by these trends.
These statistics are alarming. When left untreated, STDs can cause serious damage to women’s reproductive organs, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), pregnancy complications, even infertility. In men, STIs can spread, causing pain, and in rare cases, infertility. What’s especially troublesome is that many STDs exhibit no symptoms until the infection becomes serious. For this reason, it is so important to use preventive measures like condoms, and to get tested for STDs at least once a year. It is apparent that campaigns like Get Yourself Tested (GYT) are critical to expanding awareness around this major public health challenge. GYT is a national campaign that takes place during the month of April, aimed at raising awareness about STDs, de-stigmatizing discussion of STDs, and encouraging the sexually active to get tested regularly.
Quick, easy, and affordable healthcare is also crucial. Many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics are open 7 days a week making it easy and convenient to find a time to get tested. Planned Parenthood accepts insurance but also has low or no cost testing and treatment options for those who are eligible. You can call 1.800.230.PLAN, or request an appointment online. You can also locate a clinic near you.
Read more about STDs and the annual report at Patch.com.
by Lauren, Web Correspondent, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota