April is National STD Awareness Month and DHEC is encouraging South Carolinians to get STD screenings.
Free testing at public health clinics
To assist in these prevention efforts, DHEC’s public health clinics will be offering free testing on April 18. Appointments are encouraged. Please call 1-855-4-SCDHEC (472-3432) to schedule your appointment. The department urges those at risk for any STD to talk with their healthcare professional about getting tested or request testing at one of the public health clinics.
This year’s theme for National STD Awareness Month is “Treat Me Right.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the theme presents an opportunity for providers to ensure they have the needed tools to properly detect and treat infections. It also encourages patients to learn about STDs and prevention while empowering them to ask their provider what they can do and how they can work together to stay safe and healthy.
Testing helps prevent spread of disease
Studies show that people who have STDs such as gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis are more likely to get HIV compared to people who are STD-free. The same behaviors that increase the risk of acquiring these STDs also increase the risk for getting HIV. When left untreated, STDs can have severe health consequences to the person with the STD and to babies born to an infected mother. STD and HIV testing is a critical step in preventing the spread of disease.
According to 2016 data, there were just over 29,000 cases of chlamydia, nearly 9,400 cases of gonorrhea, and over 300 cases of primary and secondary syphilis in South Carolina.
For more information about STDs and sites that provide screenings, call DHEC’s STD/HIV Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (2437), or visit DHEC’s website at www.scdhec.gov/stdhiv.