U.S. sees continued increase in sexually transmitted infections; New River Health District mobile clinic provides free, confidential testing

January 2, 2019

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CHRISTIANSBURG — The New River Health District is committed to making testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) a standard part of medical care, especially for the populations most at risk and most affected. A mobile clinic now visits communities throughout the district to provide quick, easy, free and confidential testing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicate that nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis occurred in the United States in 2017. This surpassed the previous record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases and marked the fourth consecutive year of sharp increases in these STIs. The CDC analysis of STI cases reported for 2013 and preliminary data for 2017 shows steep, sustained increases.

“Too many people believe that all STIs have symptoms when most actually don’t. So a person can be infected and spread the infection without knowing it. The longer a person is infected, the higher the risk of medical complications,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director of the New River Health District. “We have such great contraceptive options now for preventing pregnancy that people often don’t think they still need to use condoms. The only ways to prevent STIs are using condoms or abstaining from sexual activity.”

Studies suggest a range of factors may contribute to STI increases, including socioeconomic factors like poverty, stigma, discrimination and drug use. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are curable with antibiotics, yet most cases go undiagnosed and untreated. This can lead to severe adverse health effects including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants and increased HIV risk.

For more information or to schedule a visit from the mobile clinic, contact the New River Health District at 540-585-3300.