CHEYENNE – Gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases are a growing burden in Wyoming and across the nation, particularly among younger individuals, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
In Wyoming, the rate of gonorrhea infections has increased six fold from 2012 to 2016. “This kind of growth is not something unique to our state,” said Courtney Smith, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program manager with WDH.
“Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases occur in the United States every year and the numbers tell us youth and young adults bear a substantial percentage of these infections,” Smith said. “In fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all new STDs occur among young men and women aged 15-24.”
Smith said there are effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat STDs. Because many people infected with an STD do not have any symptoms, testing is important, she said.
“STD screening, early diagnosis and timely treatment are essential in preventing STD transmission and long-term health problems,” Smith said.
Smith described certain people and situations specifically emphasized by WDH screening recommendations:
• Those who have been with a new partner in the past 60 days
• Those who have been with multiple partners in the past 60 days
• Pregnant women
• Sexually active males and females under the age of 25
• Those who have STD symptoms
• HIV-positive people
• Those who have had sexual contact with someone who has an STD
• Men who have sex with men
• Current or past residents of detention or correction facilities
Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. The WDH Communicable Disease Unit has programs such as its condom dispenser effort and a condom mailer option to help make condoms available for those who can’t afford them or can’t get to places where condoms are typically offered.
To learn more about STDs, as well as prevention and testing, visit www.knowyo.org or contact a medical professional. The www.knowyo.org site also provides a voucher code for confidential free or low-cost syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and hepatitis testing that can be used in many locations