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Q Health

Living ‘Life Elevated’ without STDs

If you haven’t heard already, then where on earth have you been? People in Utah have sex … a lot. It’s no surprise to many due to the number of minivans, large families and Costco memberships. Sex is one of the forbidden “S” words we don’t talk about in this state, which does us no good by ignoring the issue. Sex is a risky act in and of itself. Throw into the mix alternative types of sex and multiple people and you’ve got a perfect recipe for disease transmission. As the old adage says: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As I look at reports of STDs each week it doesn’t surprise me to see that gonorrhea is on the rise. Each week it goes a little higher, reaching toward the top. What does that mean? That means that many people (men, women, adults, teens) are getting infected and not learning preventative skills. Merely because you had had gonorrhea, or any other STD, doesn’t mean you are now miraculously immune to the infection in the future. You can get be infected every month forever if you continue to expose yourself to the infection. People do this all the time by having the same partner that doesn’t get treated, having multiple partners who also have multiple partners; creating what’s called a sexual web, or not receiving proper treatment, therefore not getting rid of the infection.

Gonorrhea, as well as many other STDs, can infect multiple sites within your body. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can infect your throat, urinary tract, or rectum; therefore you must get a test done for each of these sites, otherwise you might get a false negative. HPV, Herpes, Scabies, and Syphilis can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. So you see that if you only urinate in a cup to test for STDs you could receive a false result; you might have an infection in a different part of your body. Therefore you could pass the infection unknowingly to your next partner. If your partner says that they recently had an STD and you have no symptoms, it’s still wise to get tested. Many people don’t initially show symptoms and live with an infection for months without knowing.

The only way that one can be certain they aren’t infected with an STD is to abstain from sex for a period of three to six months and get tested in all sites in order to get an accurate result and then use protection until all parties have been tested and treated. Being monogamous and using protection help fight the rise of STDs as well. If you’re a sexually active person then you should be getting tested for STDs every three to six months.

If you have any questions about what STD tests you should take, don’t hesitate to contact the Salt Lake County Health Department’s STD clinic at 385-468-4242 or by visiting slco.org/health.

About the author

Peter Stoker

Peter Stoker

C. Peter STOKER, MPH, CHES, is a community health education coordinator, HIV outreach educator, epidemiologist for Salt Lake County Health Department. Information in these articles is gathered from multiple sources and are a reflection of the author’s opinion only.

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