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Sexually transmitted diseases can impact anyone who doesn't practice safer sex or abstinence, and they continue to grow in prevalence throughout the U.S., underscoring the need for STD testing services.
Recently, NBC News reported that researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released two new studies detailing the STD problem in the U.S. According to the news source, the scientists called this problem a "ongoing STD epidemic."
The studies examined the cost and prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, HIV and trichomoniasis, which are the eight most common STDs. The findings showed that in 2008, there were 20 million new STD infections and 90 million ongoing cases in the U.S. This translated to nearly $16 billion in costs for the U.S. healthcare industry.
"[STDs} take a big health and economic toll on men and women in the United States, especially our youth," CDC epidemiologist Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite, who led the study of incidence and prevalence, told NBC News. "We know that preventing [STDs] could save the nation billions of dollars each year."
Almost half of these cases were found in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, according Satterwhite, even though this population only represents a quarter of all sexually active individuals in the U.S.
Matthew Golden, the director of Public Health Seattle and King County HIV/STD Program and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STDs told the news source that school-based prevention strategies could help curb this problem.
The most common STD
The study found that by far the most common STD was HPV. This is a frustrating problem, considering that there is a vaccine to prevent against many strains of HPV. The CDC reports that only 35 percent of American girls age 13 and 17 had received the complete course of HPV vaccination, which involves three rounds of shots, as of 2011. In comparison, Australia offers the vaccine to girls between the ages of 12 and 13 in its public schools, which has resulted in 72 percent of girls receiving the complete vaccine by age 15.
The CDC states that in 90 percent of cases, the HPV infection will be cleared up by the body's natural defenses. However, this doesn't mean that people shouldn't be concerned about this virus. The CDC adds that HPV can sometimes lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis and anus.
Along with HPV, the prevalence of chlamydia was found to be very high. The Mayo Clinic states that chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, prostate gland infections, infections in newborns, infertility and infections in newborns. People should be regularly tested for this STD, so that it can be treated before they develop any of these symptoms.
The CDC recommends that sexually active women under the age of 25 get tested for chlamydia at least once a year. Depending on how sexually active a woman is and whether she uses protection, she may need to get tested more often.
People should understand that any new sexual partners may carry an STD, which is why individuals need to have open communication with one another about the last time they were tested for STDs. If a partner has not been tested in the past 12 months, it's important to make sure that they do so as soon as possible.
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