By Nakiea Boetger
A recent news story shows STD rates in our community are still climbing, take a look for yourself. Omaha has roughly TWICE the national average of STD rates!
The STD rates in Douglas County ARE alarming. These rates SHOULD be a topic of conversation. The hesitation to have discussions about sex and safety are understandable, it’s uncomfortable. But, this lack of conversation is why these rates are so high. More than half of these infections are among folks under the age of 25; it is almost never too soon to initiate the conversation about safer sex. There is a new project promoting testing among youth, for more info check out www.getcheckedomaha.com. Just think of all the goofy things about sex that your friends talked about in school. If you aren’t talking to your kids, rest assured that their friends are. And much like your friends, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.
STDs, if left untreated, can cause permanent and very serious damage, especially to women. The potential to have children can be dramatically compromised when a woman repeatedly gets one of these infections and does not treat it right away. The startling part is that many people with these infections have no signs or symptoms, so they don’t know they have it, or that they should seek testing.
NAP has been offering a urine screening for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia for over five years. We regularly have a 10% positivity rate. That means that for every ten persons that test, one will test positive. Furthermore, around HALF of the people that test positive indicate not having any signs or symptoms; they are just testing as a precaution. We encourage all sex having ladies and fellas to get tested at least once a year. We ask for ten dollars, but if you don’t have it, we will never turn you away. For more information about various STDs, visit http://www.cdc.gov/std/.
Treatment is quick, easy, and free. There is no connection to medical insurance or medical record, and there is no prescription to fill. Many places, although not NAP, can provide testing and treatment at the same time if you suspect you have an infection.
I have been testing people for HIV and STDs for many years. I have talked to thousands of people about their sex and their risks. It is scary, it is intimidating, BUT it is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Most people that talk to me leave feeling more confident in their ability to make better decisions for themselves, more trusting of the very scary process of testing, and very grateful they got up the courage to test. Often, the next time someone tests, they feel so much less vulnerable than the first time. I will not judge you, and I will not blame you. I will, however, work with you to help identify ways to keep yourself safer in your adventures with sex. And! You get free condoms!