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Mississippi experiencing high gonorrhea and chlamydia rates

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

While sexually transmitted diseases are a concern in all parts of the country, individuals who live in Mississippi, in particular, should make sure that they have access to STD testing services. According to a recent report conducted by the Mississippi Department of Health, the state had the second highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the U.S. in 2011, which are the most recent figures available. These findings should encourage Mississippi residents to practice safer sex and get tested for these infections.

Not surprisingly, health officials found that the majority of these infections are found in people under the age of 30. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while individuals under the age of 25 make up only 25 percent of the sexually active population, they account for 50 percent of all new STD infections in the U.S. each year.

A preventable problem
Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First, a group that advocates for greater access to sex education, said in a statement that she believes many young people are too embarrassed to go to an STD testing facility. However, individuals should not be afraid to get tested since most STDs are treatable. Furthermore, while some people may be uncomfortable talking about STD testing, having to confront a sexual partner after spreading an STD to them is bound to be an even more unpleasant experience.

Also, it's important for people to remember that all STDs are preventable.

"If you're abstaining from sex you're not going to get these STDs or [if you're] in a faithfully monogamous relationship, but certainly we know, condom use, consistent condom use can decrease the risk of these infections," said Paul Byers, M.D., Deputy State Epidemiologist with the Health Department.

These latest chlamydia and gonorrhea numbers are from 2011, since 2012 data is not yet available. However, health officials in Mississippi have already announced that rates for both infections increased in 2012.

What can happen?
According to WebMD, chlamydia does not cause any long-term health problems if it is treated before complications develop. However, if left untreated, this infection can be passed onto unborn children, increase a person's risk of HIV and cause infertility. Similarly, gonorrhea can cause serious issues for pregnant women if it is not treated, and may also cause infertility. For all of these reasons, it's extremely important for all sexually active individuals to get tested for STDs regularly.

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