April is upon us, and you know what that means. It’s STD Awareness Month, so it’s time to GYT. Time to what?
GYT is a national campaign collaboration between Planned Parenthood, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MTV, and Kaiser Family Foundation, which aims to bring greater awareness to STD testing. As part of GYT, Planned Parenthood Arizona wants to make it as easy as possible for you to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases. That’s why participating PPAZ locations are offering a $35 discount on full STD screenings throughout the month of April. Visit us at select health centers in the Phoenix metro area, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Prescott Valley.
In April, participating Planned Parenthood Arizona locations offer discounted full STD screening.
STDs can be transmitted by sexual activity — vaginal, anal, or oral sex, as well as activities that involve skin-to-skin contact. You might think you don’t need to be tested for STDs, but if you are sexually active, STD screening is an important part of maintaining your sexual health — in fact, the CDC recommends it. Most people with STDs don’t have symptoms — no telltale sores, blisters, bumps, warts, or discharge; no itching or burning — which means that it’s possible to have an STD without being aware of it:
- 3 out of 4 women with chlamydia have no symptoms, and half of men with chlamydia have no symptoms
- 80 percent of women who have gonorrhea have no symptoms
- HIV symptoms usually take around a decade to appear
According to the CDC, there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections every year in the United States, costing us a total of $16 billion to treat. One way to reduce medical costs is to diagnose an STD in its early stages. For example, bacterial STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can do a lot of damage when left unchecked, but if caught in their early stages can be blasted away with antibiotics, leaving you good as new. (Another way to reduce medical costs is to practice safer sex, which can dramatically reduce your risk for acquiring an STD in the first place.)
Around half of these 20 million new infections strike our nation’s youth — people 15 to 24 years old. In fact, some STDs affect young people at especially disproportional rates: 70 percent of gonorrhea infections and 63 percent of chlamydia infections occur in this age group. Left untreated, both gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to fertility problems and other serious medical issues, making regular screening important for any sexually active young person.
Minors may consent to STD services without parental involvement, and in Arizona physicians are not allowed to inform parents. Policies in other states may vary, and laws can change over time, so if you’re not sure, ask.
A “full” STD screening includes testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis. Be sure to ask your health care provider if there are any STDs for which you should also considering being tested. Some STDs, like HPV, don’t have definitive diagnostic tests — but there is a vaccine that can protect you from the most prevalent strains of HPV.
Your local Planned Parenthood health center can provide screening and treatment for STDs. To make an appointment today, call 602-277-PLAN (7526) if you live in the Phoenix area, 520-408-PLAN (7526) if you live in Tucson, or toll free 855-207-PLAN (7526) from anywhere in Arizona. For more information about April’s promotion, visit Planned Parenthood Arizona’s website. For a comprehensive primer on sexually transmitted diseases, check out our blog, and for even more information, click on over to Planned Parenthood’s website.