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 resurgence of Syphilis, which has reported rates for primary and secondary syphilis that are the highest they have been in more than 20 years. Syphilis incidence is severe among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.

Young people, ages 15 to 24 account for 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.

STDs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts (HPV), Hepatitis B, Trichomoniasis and HIV.

The germs that cause STDs live in semen, blood, vaginal secretions and sometimes saliva.  Most 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.

 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.

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