Bay Area public health officials are using Valentine’s Day as an opportune time to remind citizens about sexually transmitted diseases.
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is urging sexually active people to use preventative measures and to be regularly screened for STDs.
“Cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia have increased in Contra Costa since 2012, and there are around 100 new HIV cases in the county every year,” according to a statement released today by CCHS.
Untreated STDs can increase risk of HIV infection, fertility problems, long-term pelvic or abdominal pain and complications in pregnancy, CCHS said. Getting tested regularly is important, as some have STDs without symptoms and can pass along the infection.
“We now have safer and more effective ways to prevent and treat HIV,” said Dr. Tom Warne, deputy health officer for Contra Costa Health Services. “For people who are HIV negative, using condoms and the HIV-prevention medicines used for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) can keep them and their partner(s) safe from getting the virus through sex.”
Contra Costa residents interested in in PrEP are encouraged to contact a PrEP Navigator at (925) 313-6771. To access free or low-cost STD and HIV screening options in Contra Costa, call 1 (800) 479-9664. Information about STD prevention and treatment can be found at cchealth.org/std.
CCHS provided these steps to help everyone reduce their risk:
• Ensure correct and effective condom use for all sexual activity
• Get tested regularly (ask that they test whatever parts of your body that you use for sex, including mouth or anus, for instance)
• Get vaccinated to prevent Hepatitis A and B, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
• Have fewer partners, and have open and honest conversations with them about STDs and HIV
• Ask your healthcare provider if PrEP is right for you