TLC Family Resource Center and fellow members of the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Advisory Council want you to know that April is STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Awareness Month. We are participating in GYT (Get Yourself Tested), a national campaign focused on helping young people take control of their sexual health.
STIs are infections passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They're really common, and lots of people who have them don't have any symptoms. STIs can be dangerous, but the good news is that getting tested is no big deal, and most STIs are easy to treat.
So why don’t more people get tested? Many don’t realize that they need to get tested, but anyone who has ever had any kind of sex could get an STI. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have one or not. You also can’t tell if *you* have an STI based on whether you have symptoms or not.
Getting tested is important not only to avoid serious, lifelong health problems, but also to put your body first, whether you’re in a relationship or not — and it is usually quick, easy, and painless. Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as little as 20 minutes from a simple swab along your gums and many STI tests just require peeing in a cup. Results are confidential, and all STIs, even HIV, are treatable if not curable.
While STIs tend to affect young people most often, it’s never too late to take charge of your health. It’s always a good idea to talk about using protection, like condoms and/or dental dams, and to get tested.
Getting an STI or having a partner with an STI is extremely common and is not something anyone should be stigmatized for. Having an STI is also not the end of your sex life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Your STI status doesn’t make you “clean” or “dirty.” What’s most important is making sure you have the facts — no matter what your status is.
Having an open and honest conversation about STIs early on can bring you closer to a partner; it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You can start by saying, “I'm a little nervous to bring this up...but I want us to be healthy and I think it's important.” Your partner may actually be relieved to hear this and glad to learn that getting tested isn’t a big deal.
Here in Sullivan County, Planned Parenthood provides low cost or no cost testing in Claremont. It also serves residents at its clinic in White River Junction. Helpful videos on how to discuss STIs are available online at www.ppnne.org.
STI prevention is a core part of our County’s public health care initiative and education efforts. We believe, as does Planned Parenthood, that everyone — regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, income, country of origin, faith, and immigrant or refugee status, deserves a healthy, shame-free, and safe sex life. And access to safer sex — including tools, testing, and treatment — and education about STIs is the best way to ensure that people of all ages stay healthy and safe. Look for new containers of free condoms and dental dams in our offices as well as many other locations throughout the community this spring.
We hope you get yourself some free protection, get yourself talking, get yourself tested, get yourself treated, and keep yourself healthy.
At TLC Family Resource Center we support and strengthen all families, children, and youth in Sullivan and Lower Grafton counties with a wide range of free programs, support groups, education, and events.
Media Contact: Maggie Monroe-Cassel
109 Pleasant Street | PO Box 1098 | Claremont, NH 03743 | 603-542-1848 | Fax: 603-542-1846
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