Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Showing You Care: Know Your Status
Bay Area health officials urge precautions in light of STD increase
This Valentine’s Day, Bay Area health officials remind everyone who is sexually active to have a conversation with your primary care provider and to be screened regularly for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Across the country and in California, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia have been increasing for the past five years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California has the highest number of cases among all states. San Mateo County follows similar statewide and national trends, where syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia have increased since 2012, and with HIV cases increasing slightly.
Having an untreated STD can increase your risk of HIV infection, infertility problems, long-term pelvic/abdominal pain, and complications in pregnancy—and passing the infection on to others, which is why getting tested is so important.
“It’s always a good time to know your status, and what better time than now to have the conversation, get tested, and take precautions,” says Cassius Lockett, Director of Public Health, Policy and Planning at the San Mateo County Health System. “Knowing your status and that of your partner will put you in charge of your health. If you do have an STD, you can take action to reduce the risk of passing it on to others and help prevent long-term health problems from having an untreated STD.”
STDs are preventable and treatable. The following steps can help everyone reduce risk:
- Ensure correct and effective condom use for all sexual activity
- Get tested regularly
- Get vaccinated as a safe and effective way to prevent Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Have fewer partners and open and honest conversations with them
It can be common to have an STD without experiencing any symptoms.
If you are sexually active, talk to your provider about being screened for STDs. Most STDs can be treated quickly and effectively by your provider. To find free or affordable confidential testing sites near you, visit gettested.cdc.gov.
To find out about free or low cost STD screening options through the San Mateo County Health System, call or text (650) 619-9125. You can also find more information on STD prevention and treatment in San Mateo County at smchealth.org/std.
For more information about STDs in California, visit cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/STD.aspx.