The COVID-19 pandemic continues reshaping our world in many, often unexpected, ways. Among these is a concern among health officials that rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs) could skyrocket in the months ahead.
The concentrated effort required to fight the spread of COVID-19 has caused many on the frontlines of public health and specifically STD prevention to redirect their focus. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), many STD outreach, education and prevention programs have been reduced or suspended since the COVID outbreak. And that could have serious impacts.
David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), says, “We are seeing a complete disruption to STD prevention here in the United States. We expect to experience even higher STD rates as a result.” And he’s not alone in this assessment.
Jenine Clements, a disease investigation specialist for the Washtenaw County Health Department in Michigan, adds, “A lot of things are gonna go unnoticed. I think after all of this is over, there may be an influx of positive tests because of the fact that a lot of people may not be going in to get tested.”
According to NACCHO, some local health departments have already reported increases in STD cases. This at a time when syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia were already on the rise throughout the U.S. prior to the COVID pandemic. In fact, as of 2018, infection rates had reached an all-time high, after increasing for five years straight.
Thankfully, some organizations are still providing testing services. In Gainesville, Sira offers free testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea for both men and women.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are nearly a half-million gonorrhea infections each year and more than 2.5 million chlamydia infections. Both of these STIs can be cured with medication. To prevent lingering damage, however, it’s important to get tested and on medication quickly.
Sira’s trained medical professionals can administer your free confidential chlamydia and gonorrhea tests in our private, friendly clinic. To schedule your appointment, simply contact Sira today at 352-377-4947.