Every year, the public health and medical communities recognize April as STD Awareness Month. This month-long observance provides individuals, doctors, and community-based organizations the perfect opportunity to address ways to prevent some of nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that occur in the United States each year.
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While most of these infections will not cause harm, some have the potential to lead to serious health problems, if not diagnosed and treated early.
A new CDC analysis [PDF – 1.57MB] shows that half of all new infections occur among young people aged 15–24. The analysis goes on to show that STDs cost the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs, placing both a significant human and economic burden on the United States. Stigma, inconsistent or incorrect condom use, limited access to health care, and a combination of other factors contribute to high rates of STDs among teens and young adults. Despite this concerning news, it is important to know that most STDs are treatable, and many are curable.
During the month of April, think about any changes you might make in your life or within your community to raise STD awareness, to reduce stigma, promote prevention, and improve access to care. CDC has many resources to help you learn more about STDs, as well as materials you can share with patients or community members.
STD Web site —The STD Prevention Web site is a widely used STD resource for patients, health educators, and public health professionals. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/std for information about STD prevention.
STD Fact Sheets—Many STDs have no signs or symptoms. Learn more about STDs in these disease-specific fact sheets that are available in both English and Spanish.
The Facts—Half of all new STDs occur among young people aged 15–24. These plain language brochures provide information about STDs, STD prevention, and STD treatment.
Videos and Podcasts—Young patients feel primary care settings are an appropriate place to discuss sexual health and would like their doctors to begin these types of discussions.
These short videos and audio podcasts provide doctors with tips on how to talk to young people and take a sexual history, as well as the latest on STD prevention and treatment recommendations.
Content Syndication—The STD Prevention Web pages are some of the most popular sections of the cdc.gov Web site. By using CDC’s content syndication feature, you can add STD information on your Web site that will be automatically updated each time CDC updates its Web site!
Widgets—Knowing your STD status is a critical step in stopping STD transmission. These STD testing locators can be added to your Web site to help your Web visitors find a nearby free or low-cost STD testing facility.