That means chocolates, flowers, fancy dinners, exchanging cards and letting your significant other know how much you care.
There’s also another way to illustrate how much you respect not only your partner but also yourself. It’s also one that doesn’t get discussed as much as the others: looking after your sexual health.
What does that mean? In 2019, there are several ways to do that. Use a condom. Limit your number of sexual partners. Remember that alcohol or drugs can lower your ability to make good decisions. And utilize Monongalia County Health Department’s free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Or as they used to be known, venereal diseases, as in VD. And the fun salutation for schoolkids at the time, “Happy VD Day!”
But we know there is nothing happy about having VD, aka, STDs.
Here are some facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• CDC estimates that youth ages 15-24 make up a little more than one quarter of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year.
• Untreated chlamydia can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible to have children. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy and be passed on to a baby during childbirth.
• In 2017, 1,708,569 cases of chlamydia were reported to CDC from 50 states and the District of Columbia, but an estimated 2.86 million infections occur annually.
• Untreated gonorrhea can cause health problems in both men and women. Having it also increases the chances of getting HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.
• Nearly 80 million Americans—about 1 in 4—have human papilloma virus (HPV). In some instances, HPV can lead to a variety of cancers, including of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis or anus.
• When the AIDS crisis emerged in the 1980s, the disease was pretty much an automatic death sentence. Now that HIV is treatable, many younger people do not remember those times, causing some to let their guard down when it comes to taking measures to prevent HIV.
• In 2016, according to the CDC, West Virginia had nearly three times the rate of Hepatitis B—at 14.6—than the state with the next-highest rate, Kentucky, at 5 percent. Hepatitis B can be transmitted in several ways, including by having sex with an infected individual.
Sure, these topics aren’t the romantic ones you necessarily want to turn to as Valentine’s Day approaches. But as noted in a recent MCHD STD testing and treatment campaign: “Romantic comedies never mention STDs. But movies aren’t real life.”
There are real ways, however, to protect yourselves from STDs. Prevention is the first goal.
Then there is testing. The CDC offers recommendations for when and how often to test for STDs.
Also, while it is suggested that the HPV vaccine be administered to both girls and boys at around ages 11 or 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently raised the upper age limit from 26 to 45. If you thought you were too old to get the HPV vaccine, you might want to reconsider it now.
In the meantime, know that if you would like to begin making STD screening a regular habit, or if you want to clear your mind of any worries you might have, the free STD testing and treatment at MCHD Clinical Services means no insurance is billed. Your privacy is protected, and our nurses like to note that they are judgment-free no matter what your situation might be.
Call 304-598-5119 for an appointment. Because in 2019, VD Day is out. Happy Valentine’s Day is in.