The Southern Nevada Health District is raising concerns over an increase in the rate of transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
Compared to last year, cases of early latent syphilis are up a whopping 43 percent.
Primary and secondary syphilis is up nearly 50 percent.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV are each up by double-digit amounts as well.
So what's behind these increases, and what can be done about it?
Cheryl Radeloff is a disease and intervention specialist with the Southern Nevada Health District. She told KNPR’s State of Nevada that a combination of issues are contributing the rise in cases both locally and nationally.
She said more people having multiple sex partners, fewer public service campaigns addressing sexually transmitted diseases, improved detection through the district’s system and the explosion of so-called hookup apps and websites have all led to the increase.
Radeloff said the seemingly simple act of talking to a partner is one way to stop the spread of disease, yet the stigma surrounding STDs often prevents it.
“There is a lot of shame, there is a lot of silence talking about sexually transmitted infections and that unfortunately helps in the spread of these infections,” Radeloff said.
She said people should have frank discussions with their sex partners and with medical professionals.
“I think many people are really reluctant to tell their medical providers, because of stigma, that they need to be tested or that they’re concerned,” Radleoff said.
She also thinks that many medical providers don’t ask questions of their patients. She said a good guide to those questions can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The five Ps, as they are called, guide health care providers through asking important questions about partners, prevention of pregnancy, protection from STDs, practices and past history.
Radeloff says testing, communication and monogamy, in whatever way that term is defined for a person and their sex partner, are vital to stopping the spread of STDs.
She said people can get tested at the SNHD’s Sexual Health Clinic and they can get help with how to talk to a partner or partners about sexually transmitted diseases.
Cheryl Radeloff, disease investigator and intervention specialist, Southern Nevada Health District
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