Approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States – and almost half of these are among young people aged 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) pose a serious public health threat to Americans – particularly young women, African Americans, men who have sex with men (MSM), and individuals who live in poverty or have limited access to healthcare. STDs cost the United States’ health care system as much as $17 billion annually.
STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women. These and other common STDs can increase the risk of HIV transmission for both women and men.
There are many effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STDs. STD screening and early diagnoses are vital to prevent serious health consequences and increased transmission.
Screening is particularly important since many STDs often have no signs or symptoms. CDC recommends annual chlamydia screening for sexually active women under the age of 26. CDC also recommends that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots, be fully vaccinated against HPV. For sexually active MSM, CDC recommends annual HIV and syphilis blood testing, annual chlamydia testing, as well as annual gonorrhea testing, with more frequent testing for MSM who engage in high-risk behavior.
STD screening is available at county public health departments and through private health care providers. More information about STDs is available at www.cdc.gov/stdd.