Number two for chlamydia case rates.
Number three for primary and secondary syphilis case rates.
Number three for gonorrhea case rates.
These statistics belong to Louisiana, and they’re sobering. The rates of sexually transmitted diseases — syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and more — in our state make it vital that we have conversations about STDs: what they are, how they are spread, how they can be treated and how they can be prevented.
April is Louisiana STD Awareness Month. Like many other states around the U.S., Louisiana is participating in efforts to draw attention to STD awareness. And, because sexually transmitted diseases are often talked about in hushed whispers or not at all, that makes this year’s theme all the more important: “Start the Conversation — About STDs.” The slogan for this year’s campaign is, “It doesn’t matter how, it just matters that you do. Start the conversation!”
Three simple rules
The federal Centers for Disease Control’s Talk. Test. Treat. campaign encourages these three simple actions to protect yourself and others from STDs.
- Talk openly and honestly to your partner(s) and your healthcare provider about sexual health and STDs.
- Talk with your partner(s) BEFORE having sex. Not sure how? We have tips to help you start the conversation. Make sure your discussion covers several important ways to make sex safer:
- Talk about when you were last tested and suggest getting tested together.
- If you have an STD (like herpes or HIV), tell your partner.
- Agree to only have sex with each other.
- Use latex condoms from start to finish every time you have sex.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about your sex life, and ask what STD tests you should be getting and how often.
- Get tested. It’s the only way to know for sure if you have an STD.
- Many STDs don’t cause any symptoms, so you could have one and not know. If you’re having sex, getting tested is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.
- Find out which STD tests CDC recommends for you. Even if you’re pregnant, you can still get an STD. If you’re having sex, you’re still at risk.
- If you’re not comfortable talking with your regular healthcare provider about STDs, find a clinic near you that provides confidential testing that’s free or low cost. (The Louisiana Department of Health’s STD/HIV Program administers statewide and regional programs. Learn more here.)
- If you test positive for an STD, work with your doctor to get the correct treatment.
- Some STDs can be cured with the right medicine from your doctor, and all STDs are treatable. Make sure your treatment works by doing these things:
- Take all of the medication your doctor prescribes, even if you start feeling better or your symptoms go away.
- Don’t share your medicine with anyone.
- Avoid having sex again until you and your sex partner(s) have all completed treatment.
- Your doctor can talk with you about which medications are right for you.