April is STD Awareness Month

Staff report

PORTSMOUTH — As the Portsmouth City Health Department wraps up STD Awareness month, we focused on education, stigma, and treatment of STDs. With the rising number of cases across the US, Ohio, and Scioto County the need for education, testing, and general awareness to slow the increase of STDs is needed.

To provide the best care and prevention of STD’s it is important to have some insight of how they impact your health. Due to the varying types of STDs, we will focus on the top 3 that impact our community.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that affects the cells of the cervix. It is one of the fastest-growing STDs across the US. Chlamydia has no symptoms in about 75 percent of women. For women who do have symptoms, they may notice unusual vaginal discharge, itching or burning, or pain during sex. Men may have a clear or cloudy discharge from the penis, burning and itching at the tip of the penis, or pain during urination.

Minor infections are easily treated with medicine. Without treatment, chlamydia may cause severe stomach pain, fever, and chills, and require hospitalization. Advanced infections can cause pelvic inflammatory disease or pregnancy problems. Moreover, pregnant women can pass the infection to their babies, who may develop an eye infection or pneumonia.

Gonorrhea is another type of bacterial infection. Its early symptoms are very similar to chlamydia and may also include eye pain and discharge, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and swollen, painful joints. Severe infections can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea can be passed to newborns and cause serious vision problems and infections. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.

In some cases, treatment includes both an antibiotic shot and oral medication. It is important to note that gonorrhea is becoming harder to treat. If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again.

Across the United States, there has been a rise in Syphilis cases reported. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can cause serious health problems if not treated. Syphilis is divided into stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). There are varying signs and symptoms linked with each stage. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

You should get tested often for syphilis if you are sexually active and are a man who has sex with men; are living with HIV, or have partner(s) who have tested positive for syphilis. Syphilis is a curable infection and comes in the form of a shot or pill depending on your medical needs. Contact with syphilis does not protect you from reinfection. Unlike gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can pass to a baby during birth, syphilis can infect a baby before birth.

Babies who get congenital syphilis (passed from mother to baby during pregnancy) may be stillborn or die shortly after birth. The PCHD clinic offers STI screenings and birth control, condoms, and dental dams. The Clinic and the HIV/STD Department at PCHD offer A number of services to the community including STD testing, HIV & STD sexual Health education, linkage to care, and treatment.

The department also provides free HIV screenings, Hepatitis C testing, male/female condoms, and pamphlets. To request an education session, free screenings, testing, or sexual health materials, please contact the clinic at 740-353-8863.

Staff report