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After Startling STD News, a Refresher on the Basics

Today's Medicine

There was startling news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week: Nearly 2.3 million U.S. cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were diagnosed in 2017.

That number shattered the previous record from 2016 by more than 200,000 cases.

Fighting STDs in Nebraska

Sexually transmitted diseases are also a problem across Nebraska. According to the CDC, in 2015 the state saw 422.9 chlamydial infections per 100,000 people, 90.5 gonorrheal infections per 100,000 people and 2.4 syphilitic infections per 100,000 people.

There is some good news. We learned earlier this year that in 2017, Douglas County saw success in its efforts to fight STDs. Chlamydia rates showed signs of leveling off, gonorrhea cases increased at a slower pace than the year before and rates of syphilis fell to the lowest level since 2012.

All these facts and figures can be a little overwhelming, but they are a sobering reminder that there’s important work to be done.

That work begins with education and prevention.

STD basics

The only sure way to prevent an STD is abstinence, but if you are sexually active, follow these steps to diminish your risk:

•    Use condoms made of latex or polyurethane for the greatest protection.

•    Only have sex with one uninfected partner who is only having sex with you.

•    Avoid using drugs and alcohol, as they can lead to risky sex.

•    Always include STD testing as part of your medical checkups.

It’s important to get treated right away if you test positive for any STD. Many can be cured or treated with medication, but treatment may not undo any damage already done.

Left untreated, STDs can cause health problems that are often more severe for women. They include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies and cancer. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.

Don’t risk it

Awareness is key when it comes to staying disease-free. The CDC has a comprehensive site with information about STD symptoms, effects and more. Getcheckedomaha.com offers information about prevention and area testing locations. The Douglas County STD Clinic is another valuable resource.

You can also speak with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care physician if you are experiencing any symptoms or want to learn more about STDs.

Published on Sept. 6, 2018.

Rudolf Kotula

About the Author:

Dr. Rudolf Kotula is a board-certified infectious disease physician. He specializes in areas such as antibiotic resistance, travel medicine and infection prevention.

You can visit Dr. Kotula at Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.

See More Articles by Rudolf Kotula