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FOR RELEASE: April 20 , 2006
Ages 15-24 at Greatest Risk for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to be a major health threat in the United States, especially among adolescents and young adults, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). April is National STD Awareness Month, a health observance created to increase public awareness about STDs, including their transmission, prevention, and treatment.
Michael Harmon, chief of the OSDH HIV/STD Service, says about 16,000 new infections of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis occur annually in Oklahoma. “Of these new infections, approximately 12,000, or 75 percent, are among young men and women between 15 and 24 years of age,” he noted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), STDs are among the top five most frequently reported diseases in the United States. CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur annually with nearly half occurring in the 15- to 24-year-old population. Even so, youth make up only 25 percent of the sexually active population.
One in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by age 25, according to the American Social Health Association. Less than half of adults ages 18 to 44 have ever been tested for an STD other than HIV/AIDS.
STDs, such as chlamydia, often have no symptoms and may go unrecognized and undiagnosed. Increased screening and prevention efforts are critical to ensuring that young people do not suffer long-term health consequences that can result, such as infertility, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Like other STDs, chlamydia can also facilitate the transmission of HIV.
All county health departments provide STD testing. To locate a county health department near you, contact the OSDH HIV/STD Service at 405-271-4636. To learn more about STDs, visit this CDC Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/std, or call the CDC hotline number, 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). Additional information is available by contacting the American Social Health Association STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922.
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