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Prince George's County Health Department Offers Free Testing

Courtesy of PGC Health Department | 4/8/2009, 1:27 p.m.

April is National Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Awareness Month, a health observance created to increase awareness about STDs, transmission, prevention and treatment. Approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States - and almost half of these are among young people aged 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
€Prince George€s County experienced a 9 percent decrease in both the number of Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases from 2007 to 2008. Yet, these victories in Chlamydia and gonorrhea are seen in the midst of an increases syphilis infections and consistently high HIV rates. The Prince George€s County Health Department and the National Capital Region Sexually Transmitted Infection Community Coalition (STICC) are making it easy to take control of your health,€ said Dr. Donald Shell, Health Officer. €Today, April 3, 2009 various locations throughout Prince George's County, Washington, D.C and Arlington counties are offering free STD testing.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) pose a serious public health threat to Americans -particularly young women, African Americans, men who have sex with men (MSM), and individuals living in poverty or who have limited access to healthcare. STDs cost the United States ' health care system as much as $15.5 billion annually.

STDs such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women. These and other common STDs can increase the risk of HIV transmission for both women and men.

There are many effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STDs. STD screening and early diagnosis is vital to prevent serious health consequences and increased transmission.

€Screening is particularly important since many STDs often have no signs or symptoms. CDC recommends annual Chlamydia screening for sexually active women under the age of 26. CDC also recommends that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots, be fully vaccinated against HPV.

For sexually active MSM, CDC recommends annual HIV and syphilis blood testing, and annual Chlamydia and gonorrhea testing. Frequent testing is recommended for MSM and anyone who engage in sex without using condoms and anonymous sex which place the individual at a higher risk for contracting an STD or HIV.

For more information about the free testing sites please visit www.beSTDfree.com