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MDHHS Urges Regular Screenings to Combat Increases in STDs

By |2018-10-03T14:56:57-04:00October 3rd, 2018|Michigan, News|

LANSING, Mich. – Increases in cases of sexually transmitted diseases that were previously on the decline has the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services urging regular testing among sexually active individuals.
According to the recently released 2017 Michigan Annual STD Summary Report, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all increased last year. This growth mirrors current national trends published in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance report but reflects a reversal of previous decreases.
The state has experienced between 45,000 and 50,000 cases of chlamydia annually since 2008, but in 2017 reports increased 8 percent to nearly 51,000. Gonorrhea cases dropped nearly by half from 2008 to 2014 but have climbed nearly 60 percent in the past three years including a 20 percent jump in 2017 to 15,413 cases. Reports of syphilis had dropped 25 percent following an outbreak in 2013 but jumped 28 percent in 2017 to 480 cases.
A majority of these increases are being seen in adolescents, African-American men and women and men who have sex with men.
While STDs often cause symptoms in men — including burning upon urination, discharge, rashes or sores — these symptoms can often resolve with or without treatment. However, if left untreated the individual can still pass on the infection. In most female cases there are no symptoms.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are curable with antibiotics, yet many cases go undiagnosed and untreated. This can lead to severe adverse health effects that include infertility, ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy outside of the uterus, stillbirth in infants and increased HIV risk.
“Many infected people are unaware of their status which allows them to unknowingly pass on the disease,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief executive. “To slow the transmission of STDs, regular screening is encouraged for all sexually active individuals. Talk with your healthcare provider about testing or seek services at a local health department clinic.”
Screening and prompt treatment are critical to protect a person’s health and prevent transmission to others. MDHHS works with local health departments, healthcare providers, pharmacists and community-based organizations to test, treat and increase awareness about STDs as well as provide non-traditional opportunities to access service.
In Michigan, sexual partners of some patients with gonorrhea or chlamydia can be treated via Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) to avoid reinfection. EPT allows physicians to prescribe antibiotics for partners of infected patients without examining them. Prompt treatment of patients and partners can reduce negative health outcomes, especially among women, such as infertility and perinatal STD transmission.
Understanding risk, abstaining from sex, reducing the number of partners and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies, Wells said.
For more information, visit Michigan.gov/hivstd.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.