Sharp increase in sexually transmitted infections reported in La Plata County – The Durango Herald


Colorado Department of Health issues alert

Using condoms correctly can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. (Durango Herald file)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an alert for La Plata County regarding an increase in HIV and syphilis cases in the past 12 months compared to previous years.

San Juan Basin Public Health on Tuesday encouraged residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties to educate themselves and practice safe sexual health.

Combined in Archuleta and La Plata counties, syphilis cases were four times higher in 2020 than in 2019, with the trend continuing to increase in 2021. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases doubled from 2019 to 2020 , the trend continuing to increase in 2021. Gonorrhea cases have been increasing since 2017.

Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are bacterial infections that can increase the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV. It is essential that people at high risk for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, especially men who have sex with men, get tested every three months.

SJBPH encourages sexually active people to take advantage of the SJBPH Sexual Health Clinic, which offers:

  • Confidential counseling and testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HPV (human papillomavirus), herpes and syphilis.
  • Treatment options for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Vaccinations against HPV and hepatitis A and B.
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people at high risk of contracting HIV. PrEP is a medicine taken to prevent the transmission of HIV that can be prescribed to patients at risk. PrEP and free condoms are available at SJBPH, Planned Parenthood, and Four Corners Infectious Disease.

“The power to protect your health is in your hands, and SJBPH is here to help,” Ashley Gonzalez, clinical director in the health department, said in a press release. “Talk to your health care provider or SJBPH clinic staff about what you can do, such as using protection and getting tested, to be as proactive as possible in protecting your sexual health. “

SJBPH urges the public to take these steps to take control of their sexual health:

  • Be prepared to honestly answer your health care provider‘s questions about sex, which will help your provider determine the best path for care.
  • Get tested – many sexually transmitted infections are curable, and all are treatable, including HIV.
  • Get treatment – protect yourself from irreversible long-term damage to your health by starting treatment immediately.
  • Know the benefits of accelerated partner therapy – your provider may be able to give you medication or a prescription for your partner, even without seeing them first.
  • Get tested again – it is common to get some sexually transmitted infections more than once, so it is important to get tested again in three months, even if you and your partner have been taking medication.
  • Communicate with your sexual partner and your health care provider.

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