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National STD Awareness Month Aims To Educate
Updated April 4, 2016 6:47 AM | Filed under: Health
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - April marks the annual observance of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Awareness Month. The Indiana State Department of Health is encouraging Hoosiers to discuss prevention and know their risks.

"While most STDs can be treated, they can have damaging health effects, such as infertility in adults or low birth weight in newborns," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "Hoosiers should educate themselves about STDs and ensure they are taking steps to protect themselves and their partners."

STD Awareness Month is an annual observance to take notice of the impact of STDs and to promote testing. It's also an opportunity for individuals, doctors and community-based organizations to address ways to prevent the nearly 20 million occurrences of STDs nationally from getting higher. Half of all new sexually transmitted infections that occur each year are among youths. These numbers highlight an urgent need for prevention.

Sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Having an STD can make you more likely to get HIV. Sexually transmitted diseases can be passed to babies before, during or after birth.

An STD like syphilis can cross the placenta and infect the baby. Pregnant women with an STD could experience:

  • premature labor or rupture of the membranes
  • stillbirth
  • low birth weight baby
  • Preterm birth
Preliminary data indicates 29,086 cases of chlamydia, 7,910 cases of gonorrhea and 298 cases of primary and secondary syphilis were reported in Indiana in 2015. Left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Complications from untreated syphilis can include brain and nervous system damage. Getting tested is the best way to know your status. "I encourage all Hoosiers to talk to their doctor about getting tested for STDs and to get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime," Dr. Adams said.

For information on ways to prevent STDs, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's STD page at

HIV, like other STDs, can take up to three months to diagnose, depending on the test that is used and how long it takes the virus to multiply in a person's body. Individuals who have engaged in high risk behavior such as needle sharing and unprotected sex are advised to get tested and then retested every two to three months as long as they are engaging in those behaviors.

To find an HIV and STD testing location near you, visit

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at

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