For Immediate Release
April 10, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


KDHE Highlights Health Impacts of Sexually Transmitted Diseases During
April 2008, STD Awareness Month

Approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States – and almost half of these are among young people aged 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) pose a serious public health threat to Americans – particularly young women, African Americans, men who have sex with men (MSM), and individuals living in poverty or who have limited access to healthcare. STDs cost the United States health care system as much as $15.5 billion annually. A recent CDC study estimates that one in four young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States – or 3.2 million teenage girls – is infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus or trichomoniasis).

STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are major causes of infertility among women. These and other common STDs can increase the risk of HIV transmission for both women and men. In Kansas there were 8,210 chlamydia cases, 2,289 gonorrhea cases and 53 syphilis cases reported in 2007.

The HIV/STD Program administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention (BDCP) helps provide education, counseling and testing programs that reach 80,000 Kansans each year. The program annually trains more than 200 counselors and educators, and supervises 170 care and prevention agreements.

“STD screenings to provide early diagnosis along with treatments and vaccines are vital to prevent serious health consequences and reduce the risk of transmission,” stated Dr. Gail Hansen, State Epidemiologist. “Screening is important since many STDs often have no signs or symptoms.”

CDC and KDHE recommend annual chlamydia screening for sexually active women under the age of 26. CDC and KDHE also recommend that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 be vaccinated against HPV.

For sexually active MSM, recommendations are for annual HIV and syphilis blood testing, annual chlamydia testing, as well as annual gonorrhea testing, with more frequent testing for MSM who engage in high-risk behavior.

The KDHE HIV/STD Program’ s “Quick Guide to HIV/STD Services,” including information about STD prevention, intervention and treatment is available at www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/. More information about STDs can be found at www.cdcnpin.org/stdawareness/.