April 1, 2014

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE highlights health impacts of sexually transmitted infections

April is STD Awareness Month

TOPEKA, Kan. - Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the United States every year, with America's youth shouldering a substantial burden of these infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of all new STIs in the country occur among young men and women aged 15 to 24.

"Many people, especially young people, who have an STI are not aware of it until they have infected someone else and are notified by that person or the health care community. Testing is paramount to staying healthy when you exhibit risky behavior or engage in unsafe activities. Prevention through education of factual information and good life choices can prevent thousands of needless infections every year. Remember, the life you save may be your own - Be aware - be tested - stay healthy," said Brenda Walker, Director, KDHE's Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention.

The high incidence of STIs in the general population suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to STIs, underscoring the need for prevention.

There are effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STIs. STI Screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and the long term health consequences of STIs. Having an untreated STI increases the risk of HIV transmission. The CDC encourages early detection and treatment of STIs as a means to prevent HIV. During 2013, there were 11,082 reported cases of Chlamydia in Kansas. Of these 7,853 cases (71%) were in young men and women aged 15-24. There were 2,176 reported cases of gonorrhea in Kansas in 2013. Of these 1,179 cases (54%) were in young men and women aged 15-24.

Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause disease and cancer. And for all individuals who are sexually active - particularly people under 25 - STI screening and prompt treatment (if infected) are critical to protect a person's health and prevent transmission to others.

More information about STIs is available at or