STD Rates on the rise in South Dakota - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

STD Rates on the rise in South Dakota

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Today Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls and Rapid City offered free std testing in response to the rising cases across the state. 

Over the past 12 years, the number of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea cases has more than doubled, with a large percentage of the cases affecting young people under age 25. 

The state health department described the new stats as truly alarming, especially after seeing that STD rates are noticeably higher among certain age groups, races and counties across the state.  

"STD's don't really discriminate based on gender, age race, any other factor," said Planned Parenthood Communication Director Jennifer Aulwes. 

But the statistics show that once an STD gets a foot hold among a group of people, it spreads very quickly.  

"The great majority of people who are contracting STD's at this time are younger people," said Anita Pendo, a certified nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood. 

"We're now at a point where we're having more gonorrhea cases than we've had since the 1970s in the state…it's primarily high among the young people. Sixty percent of our gonorrhea cases are among people less than 25 years of age," said Lon Kightlinger MSPH, Ph.D., the State Epidemiologist with the SD Department of Health. 

The 2011 CDC report also shows that 68% of gonorrhea cases in the state affect American Indians—who make up only 9% of the state's total population.  

"So when you get this kind of condition or disease, within a group of individuals, not just natives, it just happens to be American Indians in this case, but when you have partners in a local or community area, obviously its going to spread very fast," said Donna Keeler, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Urban Indian Health center in Sioux Falls.

 That also means certain areas of the state are affected more than others.  

"Pennington County on the western part of the state is one of the highest areas of STD rates in the state," said Aulwes. 

"It's an issue anywhere when it comes right down to it, but in the rural issues it might be more of an issue simply based on lack of information and lack of access to healthcare," said Pendo. 

Even those who've received STD education can be vulnerable.  

"Certainly in a very high percentage of the cases, substance abuse of some sort has been involved in the decision making of having unprotected sex with multiple partners," said Keeler. 

"It is an easily preventable disease; it just takes some personal responsibility to do that," said Kightlinger. 

While these groups are seeing higher rates, STDs can affect anyone—all it takes is one unprotected sexual encounter.  

The CDC suggests the following for preventing STDs:

  • Abstinence: The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
  • Vaccination: Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.
  • Mutual monogamy: Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
  • Reduced number of sex partners: Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.
  • Condoms: Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
  • Put Yourself to the Test: Knowing your STD status is a critical step to stopping STD transmission. If you know you are infected you can take steps to protect yourself and your partners. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider to test you for STDs — asking is the only way to know whether you are receiving the right tests. And don't forget to tell your partner to ask a healthcare provider about STD testing as well. Many STDs can be easily diagnosed and treated. If either you or your partner is infected, both of you need to receive treatment at the same time to avoid getting re-infected.
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