STD Awareness: Talk to your doctor, get tested

Sexually transmitted diseases can be an uncomfortable topic of discussion for some people.

But the truth is, while STDs are becoming more common in the U.S., they’re treatable and preventable if people are careful.  April is STD Awareness Month, and health experts with the Heidelberg Medical Department Activity urge military community members to take some time to learn about the most common STDs and how to prevent them.

“Many STDs have no symptoms at all,” said Capt. Rosemary Wosky, public health nurse at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic. “This means that many people are infected and don’t know it. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs each year in the U.S. Almost half of those cases are among young people ages 15 to 24.

“Don’t be afraid to discuss STDs with your health care provider,” Wosky urged. “We’re not here to reprimand you for being infected. We’re here to help you get the testing and treatment you need.

“Most importantly, talk about STDs with your partner. You should be able to have an open and honest conversation with each other, and that will help prevent STDs in the future,” she said.

Vaccines offer protection against two of the most common sexually transmitted viral infections: hepatitis B and human papillomavirus, better known as HPV, which has been linked to cervical cancer.

“STD testing should be part of your routine medical care if you are sexually active with more than one partner,” Wosky said. “As your health care team, we can provide the appropriate counseling, vaccinations, testing and treatment, if needed.”

For more information on the prevention and treatment of STDs, call the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic.