April is Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month, and Fresno County health officials want to remind the public about the importance of prevention, testing and treatment.
In Fresno County, cases of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV are the most common communicable infections reported to the health department.
In 2015, there were 5,966 new chlamydia infections, 1,766 new gonorrhea infections and 40 cases of congenital syphilis reported in the county.
Nationwide, the combined STD cases reached the highest number ever, according to the latest numbers available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The economic cost of the illnesses was estimated to be about $16 billion annually in direct medical costs.
The theme of this year’s public health awareness campaign – “Syphilis Strikes Back” – is particularly important in Fresno County, where cases of the disease that once was nearly eliminated have been increasing.
“And while this illness most heavily affects men having sex with men in many communities, the illness is heavily impacting women and their babies in our community. We cannot allow this to continue,” said Dr. Ken Bird, health officer for Fresno County.
For people who are sexually active, prompt screening for illnesses and treatment for those infected are critical to prevent the spread of the disease to others, the health department said. Prevention includes abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and consistently and correctly using condoms.
Testing for sexually transmitted diseases is available at most community health centers. The county health department offers free HIV testing for the virus that can cause AIDS.
For more information about sexually transmitted illnesses and testing, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/std, the county health department website at www.fcdph.org or call the county health department at 559-600-3200.