Today marks the first day of Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Week. Health officials say chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are the top reported sexually transmitted infections in Michigan.
Although STI cases are found in a variety of people, most are found in the 15 to 24 age group.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging everyone to make STI screening a habit, and they say it’s nothing you should be ashamed of.
“STI’s are kind of that dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about, but they’re there,” said Kristine Tuinier, MDHHS Field Services and STI Prevention Section Manager.
Tuinier says there are 50 to 60 thousand cases of sexual transmitted infections reported every year in Michigan. It’s something thousands deal with but not many want to talk about.
“We all want to believe that, it won’t happen but it can just very easily happen. “It’s common. Don’t be ashamed, don’t feel dirty just protect your body, protect yourself, go get screened, and go get treated,” said Tuinier
In 2020, chlamydia cases in Michigan went down 12%, the largest decrease recorded in the state, but gonorrhea cases increased by 25%.
Health officials thought if people stayed home during the pandemic numbers would but decrease but… “We also realized that sex can be a very strong coping mechanism. That’s largely why I think we saw the increases,” said Tuinier.
Common symptoms for chlamydia and gonorrhea is abnormal discharge, and odor but most cases do not show symptoms.
For syphilis, symptoms include a sore or rash, usually found in the palms of hands and soles of feet. Syphilis cases in women is also on the rise. There was a 25% increase in babies contracting syphilis during pregnancy.
“If people don’t take action on that, it goes away they think they’re fine. But then a few weeks later they’ll get a couple of different symptoms.”
The best way to stay protected from STI’s is to remain abstinent but if not here are a few prevention strategies.
“We always promote limiting the number of partners, consistent and correct use of condoms of course, have conversations with partners, be tested when you think you have been exposed or you have a symptom. Make sure your partners are also treated,” Tuinier.
MDHHS says they’re exploring an at home testing option. Officials also suggest getting screened every three to six months if you have multiple partners.