Commentary by Kirk Forbes
You may not know it, but April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month. The other thing you may not know is if you have an STD. According to the CDC, one in two sexually active young people will get an STD by age 25 and may not even know it. The United States currently has the highest rates of STDs of any other nation in the developed world. These figures aren’t meant to scare you, but simply to make you aware of how prevalent STDS are. The good news is you can get tested.
If you’re a woman, don’t assume that you’re receiving STD testing every time you have a gynecologic exam or Pap test. Regardless of your gender and age, if you think you need STD testing, request it from your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and mention specifically what infections you think you might have. Also, ask your doctor specifically for a Roche Cobas HPV test during your next PAP exam.
Women are actually more likely to contract STDs than men are, but they’re also less likely to notice the symptoms. STD symptoms can be less apparent on female genitalia and because women often confuse STD symptoms for less serious issues, like a yeast infection. Sexually transmitted infections often have more longer-term consequences for women. They can lead to infertility, cause cervical cancer, and pregnant women can pass STDs to their unborn babies.
According to the CDC, the nation’s STD epidemic is mainly due to HPV and chlamydia. That’s good and bad news. On one hand, chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics, and there’s an extremely effective vaccine to prevent HPV transmission. However, not all young people in America are getting their HPV shots, even though the CDC urges parents to vaccinate their children — both girls and boys — before they reach their early 20s, preferably around the ages of 11 or 12 before they become sexually active. Certain strains of HPV can develop into cervical cancer, which kills more than 4000 women every year in the United States.
Take charge of your health this month and take the opportunity to get tested. Early detection and treatment is the key.
Noblesville residents Kirk and Brenda Forbes founded the Kristen Forbes EVE Foundation after the death of their daughter in 2008 from cervical cancer. For more information or to contact the foundation, visit http://kristeneve.org/home.