STIs in the Blue Ridge Health District are on the rise

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — As COVID-19 cases decline, there are other illnesses the Blue Ridge Health District monitors like infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

“We are seeing an increase in STIs across the board,” said community testing coordinator for BRHD, Norman Dorise. “We want to tell people who are sexually active that it’s important to get tested and that it’s not something people should be ashamed of or feel bad about.”

From 2009 to 2021, early syphilis increased by 144% in Virginia. It was even worse over the same period in our part of the state.

“We’ve seen a 243% increase in syphilis in our area here,” Dorise said.

During that same dozen years across the state, chlamydia increased by 18% and gonorrhea by 85%.

“STIs may not have any signs or symptoms, which means you can carry them without knowing at all that you have them,” Dorise said. “Every routine test for STIs is really important, just to check if you have any to get them treated if you do, because they can all lead to further complications if left untreated.”

Dorise says the best way to avoid STIs is to protect yourself.

“All these diseases, they don’t discriminate. That’s as long as you’re sexually active and at risk by not using condoms or having important conversations with your partner about their sexual history and testing. Then you put yourself at risk of getting these diseases,” Dorise said.

The recommendation for sexually active people is to get tested every three to six months.

“Routine STI screening is something that can really protect you and your community,” Dorise said. “Sexual health testing is not something anyone should be ashamed of or afraid to do. It’s something completely normal that we all have to do at some point if we want to protect ourselves. »

On March 1 and 15, BRHD is offering free STI testing at the Health Department on Rose Hill Drive beginning at 4:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. No appointment necessary.

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