Promoting Reproductive and Sexual Health

National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week
April 2-8, 2012 

(BINGHAMTON, NY) - April 2-8, 2012 is National Public Health Week. In observance of one of the week’s daily themes: A healthier America begins with reproductive and sexual health, the Broome County Health Department is encouraging people to honestly discuss all matters of sexual health with their healthcare providers and, if sexually active, their partners.
“STDs are a major public health issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are 19 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24,” said Melissa Brennan, Clinics Director of the Broome County Health Department.
STDs carry a serious price tag in our country. The direct medical cost is estimated at almost $16 billion annually. Vaccines offer protection against two common sexually transmitted viral infections; hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The New York State Department of Health strongly recommends these vaccines for young people before they become sexually active. People who have high-risk sexual behaviors should also be vaccinated.
“While serious health threats from STDs cross racial and ethnic lines, disparities persist at too high a level. Higher rates of the most commonly reported STDs persist among African-Americans and Hispanics when compared to whites,” Brennan noted.
STDs have also been associated with increased risk of HIV transmission.
“I cannot stress the importance of testing enough,” said Brennan. “To reduce the impact of STDs, it is important to increase knowledge about sexually transmitted infections and make STD testing a part of routine medical care.  Because many STDs have no symptoms, those at risk need to be tested and find out if they are infected,” Brennan said.
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs, especially among young women. The CDC recommends that all sexually active women younger than age 26 be tested for Chlamydia once a year. Women who are older than 26 should be tested if they have a new or multiple sex partners.
Getting tested and treated for Chlamydia will reduce new cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women with PID can experience pregnancy complications, infertility, chronic pain, and irreversible damage to their reproductive organs. Reducing the impact of PID among women also requires men to be tested and treated for Chlamydia to reduce new cases.
“What we sometimes see is that young women who have been diagnosed with Chlamydia may become re-infected by male partners who have not been diagnosed or treated,” said Brennan.
The CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines recommend that sex partners of infected patients be treated to prevent re-infection of the patient and transmission of the infection to others. Those with Chlamydia should be retested for the infection about three months after treatment. Sexually active men who have sex with men should be tested for Chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV annually.
Health care providers should take a sexual health history of their patients for follow up with appropriate counseling, vaccination, testing, and if needed, treatment for STDs. Increased prevention efforts, including screening, are critical to reducing the serious health consequences of STDs. Increased prevention efforts, including screening, are critical to reducing the serious health consequences of STDs.
In addition to getting tested for STDs, people who are sexually active can reduce the risk of getting a STD. When used consistently and correctly, latex or polyurethane condoms can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting STDs and HIV, as well as pregnancy.
For more information about the STD services provided by the Broome County Health Department visit their website at To learn more about sexual health and related issues, visit the New York State Health Department Web site at
04/04/2012 - 12:37pm