Citing Increase in STDS, State Health Commissioner Urges Prevention, Early Detection

April is National STD Awareness Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 20, 2009) - Preliminary data indicates that cases of early syphilis and chlamydia increased in New York State in 2008 compared with the previous year, prompting State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., to issue a call for greater prevention and screening.

"Every day, an estimated 125 teenagers and young adults in New York State are diagnosed with chlamydia and 25 are diagnosed with gonorrhea," said Commissioner Daines. "National STD Awareness Month is a good time to remind New Yorkers that prevention and early detection are the best defenses against sexually transmitted disease (STDs)."

More than 25 diseases can be passed through any type of sexual activity, including oral, vaginal and anal sex. The most common STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV, genital warts), hepatitis and HIV.

Preliminary data for New York State indicate there were 2,556 cases of early syphilis among New Yorkers in 2008, an increase of 339 cases. There were 88,260 cases of Chlamydia in 2008, an increase of 7,543 cases. Gonorrhea cases totaled 17,041, a decrease of 651 cases.

Teenagers and young adults are more at risk for contracting an STD. Other risk factors include having sex with a partner that has an STD, having sex with multiple partners; and using drugs or alcohol. The Health Department recommends that people talk with their health care providers about vaccines for HPV and Hepatitis A and B, currently the only STDs with effective vaccines to prevent infection.

Some STDs can be treated and cured, but others cannot. Many people with an STD do not show any signs or symptoms of infection. Because some STDs can cause serious and permanent damage if left untreated, sexually active people should routinely get tested for STDs so they can get prompt treatment.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 9 million to 10 million new STD infections every year among 15-to 24-year-olds in the United States. The CDC recommends consistent contraceptive use and routine screening to prevent STD transmission. People who are sexually active should use latex or polyurethane condoms every time they have vaginal, oral or anal sex, which will greatly reduce the risk of contracting or spreading an STD.

Getting tested is an important first step to getting medical care, counseling and support. To learn where to get free STD testing, contact your local health department or visit www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/communicable/std/.

To obtain free HIV testing, call 1-800-541-AIDS (2437) for English speakers or 1-800-233-SIDA (7432) for Spanish speakers.

STD and HIV testing sites can also be found at www.hivtest.org.