What young adults in NJ need to know about rising sexually transmitted diseases
It hasn’t been this bad in more than 25 years.
New Jersey health officials are voicing concern about a big spike in sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis
“There were nearly 40,000 newly reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases in New Jersey in 2015, an increase of more than 6 percent from the previous year,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, deputy commissioner of the state Health Department.
Left untreated, these diseases can lead to a variety of health problems, including infertility.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of STDs in 2015 reached their highest levels in the United States since the late 1980s.
Brito said the problem is so significant that the state Health Department has launched a public awareness campaign aimed at young adults.
“That’s because those under the age of 24 account for nearly half of all sexually transmitted diseases in the state, and what’s really alarming is that half of all sexually active people in New Jersey will get a sexually transmitted disease by the age of 25,” he said.
Brito explained the awareness campaign is calling on healthcare providers, parents, college health officials and educators to have frank discussions with young people about the harmful effects of sexually transmitted diseases, and to explain the importance of getting tested.
He said as part of the campaign the state Health Department sent posters in both English and Spanish to local health agencies around New Jersey to increase awareness, and they are repeatedly sending out social media messages on Twitter and Facebook .
“Getting tested is important because many sexually transmitted diseases don’t have symptoms, but they can still cause health problems and they can still be transmitted,” he said.
If people, particularly 20-somethings, are sexually active they should really be talking to their healthcare provider and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.”
Brito said if you have questions about this you can visit nj.gov/ health to get more information.
He noted nine counties in New Jersey have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases than the rest of the state: Atlantic, Camden, Cumberland, Mercer, Passaic, Union, Salem, Essex and Hudson.
“We’ve intensified our partnerships with hospitals, clinics, local health officials and community groups focusing on efforts in Newark and Jersey City,” he said
Health officials are particularly concerned about pregnant women.
“That’s because a pregnant woman who has a sexually transmitted disease can pass it on to her infant, and infants are at highest risk of life-threatening complications,” he said.
If you want to get tested for an STD you can visit gettested.cdc.gov (which includes a ZIP code search to find a near STD testing site) or call 800-624-2377
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.