Maine CDC Press Release

April 26, 2019

Maine CDC Stresses Importance of Testing
During National Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month

The Maine CDC is joining other states throughout the nation to recognize April as STD Awareness Month. Find out more about prevention, screening, and treatment here.

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is joining other states throughout the nation to recognize April as Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month. As cases of STDs continue to rise nationally and here in Maine, Maine CDC is emphasizing the importance of prevention, screening, and treatment.

In just the last five years, Maine has experienced dramatic increases in cases of gonorrhea and syphilis. Gonorrhea cases increased 191 percent, from 236 cases in 2014 to 686 in 2018. Additionally, cases of infectious syphilis increased by 593 percent, from 15 cases in 2014 to 104 cases in 2018. All people at risk for STDs should be tested and, if positive, treated according the U.S. CDC STD Treatment Guidelines.

Federal CDC studies suggest a range of factors may be contributing to the increase in STDs nationally, including socioeconomic factors such as poverty, stigma, and discrimination; and drug use.

"TDs can come with a number of serious health consequences including ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and even death," said Acting Maine CDC Director Nancy Beardsley. "It is important for health care providers to take comprehensive sexual health histories of their patients, and essential that individuals know the facts about STDs and get tested if they believe they are at risk."

People who have anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom; individuals with multiple sex partners; individuals with anonymous sex partners; and people having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are at greater risk for acquiring an STD. Anyone at risk should ask their health care provider about getting tested.

Most people infected with STDs will not have any symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may experience a rash, painful urination, bumps, sores, or warts near the infected area, and painless skin lesions. More serious complications can include pelvic inflammatory disease, damage to joints, blindness, cancer, or death. The only way to know if you have an STD is to be tested.

Blood tests, urine samples, and fluid samples are the most common ways to diagnose STDs. STD testing is confidential, and some sites offer free or reduced-cost testing. For more information on testing sites available near you, please visit: www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/hiv-std/services/hiv-testing-sites.shtml.

Antibiotics are given to treat most STDs. It is crucial to complete the treatment to prevent antibiotic resistance.

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