To mark National Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, the Harford County Health Department is reminding residents to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. This warning coincides with a disturbing trend across the United States. Approximately 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur every year.
Almost half of those cases occur in people ages 15 to 24, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Reported cases of three infections – chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – were at an all-time high across the nation in 2015, the most recent year for which national data are available. Of that trio of infections, Maryland public health officials are concerned most about significant increases in gonorrhea. Preliminary 2016 data indicate a nearly 40 percent increase in reported cases of gonorrhea when compared with 2015 data.
Locally, in Harford County, there has been a steady increase in cases among men, ages 20-24, to over a 100% increase in gonorrhea cases since 2013. Most positive cases reportedly are from the Aberdeen, Abingdon and Edgewood zip codes.
“Harford County is seeing an alarming statistical upturn in sexually transmitted infections,” says Harford County Health Officer, Susan Kelly. “We urge all residents to take control of their sexual health and avoid infections by choosing abstinence or consistently using condoms with all sexual partners. STI testing and treatment are available to all who live and work in Harford County at both our Bel Air and Edgewood locations. Individuals are urged to call for an appointment.”
Gonorrhea, like many STIs, most often produces no symptoms. Left untreated, though, STIs can cause serious health consequences, especially in women – such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Some STIs cause cancers of the rectum, cervix, genitals and throat, and having an STI increases a person’s risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection.
For more information on sexually transmitted infections, visit the health department’s website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com or call 410-612-1779 to make a testing appointment.