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Pennsylvania Department of Health Urges Greater Awareness of, Testing for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Date:4/1/2009

April is National STD Awareness Month

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Health today reminded Pennsylvanians of the continuing need for men and women to take steps to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, as well as the importance of discussing their sexual health with partners and health care providers.

"Although many STDs are treatable, screening and early diagnosis are essential to prevent serious health consequences and transmission of the diseases to others," said Deputy Secretary Janice Kopelman. "Screening is particularly important because many STDs often have no signs or symptoms."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted disease infections occur each year in the United States. Almost half of these infections are among young people age 15 to 24, with a disproportionate number affecting young women, Latinos, African Americans, men who have sex with men, and those living in poverty or who have limited access to healthcare.

In 2007, individuals age 15-24 accounted for 74 percent of the chlamydia and 59 percent of the gonorrhea reported in Pennsylvania, not including Philadelphia. STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women.

In Pennsylvania, race and ethnicity often affect health status because of such factors as poverty, access to quality health care, health care seeking behavior, illicit drug use, and living in communities with a high prevalence of STDs. In 2007, and exclusive of data from Philadelphia, the following rates of STD's were reported for Pennsylvania:

  • Primary and Secondary syphilis among African Americans was more than eleven times higher than among Caucasians;
  • Chlamydia among African Americans was more than sixteen times the rate reported for Caucasians; and,
  • Gonorrhea among African Americans was more than forty-one times the rate reported for Caucasians.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health maintains a statewide network of STD clinics that offer free and confidential STD testing and treatment.

For more information about STDs, or to find a free and confidential testing site near you, please call 1-877-PA-Health (1-877-724-3258), or visit online at www.health.state.pa.us/std.

    CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman
    (717) 787-1783


     


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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