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April is National STD Awareness Month

April 16, 2012

PHOENIX - A major problem with sexually transmitted diseases is that many people don't know they have them. April is STD Awareness Month, when public health agencies and health-care providers are urging sexually-active people to GYT - Get Yourself Tested.

Planned Parenthood-Arizona's Carol Bafaloukos says young people are especially vulnerable.

"Statistically speaking, one in four teenagers has an STD and many of them don't know. So it's very important, if you've been sexually active and you haven't used protection, that you do get tested."

Bafaloukos says gonorrhea and chlamydia are detected with a urine test, while syphilis and HIV require a simple finger poke. Roughly 19 million new STD cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, with more than 41,000 of those cases in Arizona.

Planned Parenthood is offering a Get Yourself Tested discount coupon this month on its website. But Bafaloukos says there are several options to get STD testing at little or no cost.

"Planned Parenthood would be one of the more reasonable places you can go, but the county does have an STD clinic that will test people on a walk-in basis."

Bafaloukos says the STD problem is not improving and may be getting worse. She says even mature adults in their 60s and beyond are not immune.

"There may have been a time where a widow may have stayed widowed, but now maybe that's not the case. You know, we have on-line dating, we have retirement communities, we have people who are meeting other people and may be exposed to STDs."

She says seniors unconcerned about pregnancy may not use protection, which can result in exposure to STDs.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ