STI’s are a public health threat

Get yourself tested - 1 in 2 sexually active young people will get an STI by 25, most won’t know it.

Get yourself tested - 1 in 2 sexually active young people will get an STI by 25, most won’t know it.

It can be an uncomfortable conversation, but overall health can only be assured when testing is done on specific elements of wellness. Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) encourages routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, but the sexually active should also get themselves tested. 

Abstinence is the only way to unequivocally prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, Klamath County has a history of having more STIs annually than the state average.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that by the age of 25 one in two sexually active people will contract an STI. Sexually active adults are encouraged to be tested annually, but anyone concerned about having contracted an infection should be tested sooner rather than later. Untreated infections can lead to infertility. 

Testing is always done in a confidential manner, whether at KCPH or another clinic. If you are sexually active, have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for STIs. It is now recommended that everyone be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. 

Oregon tracks cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia as part of statewide communicable disease monitoring. While local new cases of gonorrhea have remained stable, chlamydia has increased considerably since 2016. From 2016 through April 2019, annual cases of gonorrhea have been 61, 60, 60 and 32, respectively. In the same time period chlamydia numbers have been 268, 314, 346 and 105. What is particularly alarming is that the numbers for 2007 were six and 113. 

News articles about “super” gonorrhea have alarmed many people. Gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it. Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of the drugs used to treat them. This means the bacteria are no longer killed by a drug that used to kill them before. The bacteria are then free to keep multiplying.  

Gonorrhea has developed resistance to nearly all of the antibiotics used for its treatment. We are currently down to one last recommended and effective class of antibiotics to treat this common infection. This is an urgent public health threat because gonorrhea control in the United States largely relies on the ability to successfully treat the infection. 

Gonorrhea can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can give the infection to her baby during childbirth. 

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in the United States. It can infect both men and women. Also, it can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb). 

The only way to avoid STIs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting STIs:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STI test results;

  • Using condoms the correct way every time you have sex.

If you’ve had an STI and were treated in the past, you can still get infected again. This can happen if you have unprotected sex with someone who has an STI. 

A man shared recently that he thought he was going to die from gonorrhea. His testicles were extremely swollen and it felt like he was urinating razor blades. “You better believe I use a condom now,” he said. 

For more information, or to schedule an appointment for testing, call KCPH at 541.882.8846.