“Nationally, about 40% of teens are sexually active by the age of 19. Of those, one in four has at least one STD. We might not be able to imagine our child in a sexual relationship,” says Floyd County Health Department Nurse Manager Alison Watson, “and yet our kids do have sexual lives, and those lives are putting them at risk for diseases that are currently on the rise — diseases we can help prevent and treat.”
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), are diseases that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. “Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common STDs we see with Floyd County teens,” according to Watson.
The most recent data available for Floyd County show that in 2015 there were 113 chlamydia cases and 12 gonorrhea cases
among Floyd County teens aged 15 – 19. “We see other STDs in our teen population, but these two are our biggest concerns,” Watson says.
“Individuals with chlamydia and gonorrhea sometimes have no symptoms or may overlook them, so many infections go undiagnosed. This can cause serious health complications for men and have lifelong repercussions for a woman’s reproductive health, including infertility.”
“It’s crucial to educate our teens about how STDs are transmitted, how to protect themselves and how to seek medical treatment when needed, “says Watson. “Teens shouldn’t just hope an STD will go away. It won’t.”
Watson says she wants all Floyd County teens and their parents to know that the Floyd County Health Department offers confidential, teen-friendly STD testing and treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes and genital warts. She’s also quick to point out that if a teen is at risk of any STD, he or she is also at risk of HIV.
According to Watson, young people are at greater risk of getting an STD for several reasons. “Young women’s bodies are biologically more susceptible to STDs. Some young people do not get the recommended STD tests, and many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives,” Watson says. “Not having insurance or transportation can make it more difficult for young people to access STD testing, and some young people have more than one sex partner.”
“The surest way for teens to protect themselves against STDs, of course, is abstinence — to not have sex — but we know that’s not always going to be the decision.” Watson stresses that if teens do decide to have sex, “you and your partner should get tested beforehand and make sure that you and your partner use a condom, every time you have sex, from start to finish. Know where to get condoms and how to use them correctly. It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested, know your status and are in a mutually monogamous relationship.”
Watson emphasizes that many STDs don’t cause any symptoms that teens would notice, so the only way to know for sure if they have an STD is to get tested. There are loads of places you could go if you wanted to get tested. For example, you could visit somewhere like this std clinic in charlotte, but there are loads of other places you could visit. “You can get an STD from having sex with someone who has no symptoms. Just like you, that person might not even know he or she has an STD,” Watson says.
Teens and/or their parents can contact the Floyd County Health Department, 16 East 12th Street, Rome, for more information on STD prevention, testing and treatment.
Acceptable payment methods for STD services include cash, Medicaid, Aetna, and Cigna. Clients may call the health department at 706-295-6123 for pricing information.
Floyd County Health Department hours are Monday – Wednesday 8 am to 5 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6:30 pm, and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. Please note that the health department is closed for lunch Monday – Thursday 12 noon to 12:30 pm and for staff training from 8 am to 12 noon the third Thursday of every month.
Contact the Floyd County Health Department, 16 East 12th Street, Rome, at 706-295-6123 or http://nwgapublichealth.org/counties/floyd/ or https://www.facebook.com/FloydCountyHealthDepartment/