Dr. Rachael Ross Says ‘Know Your STD Status’

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Mr. Marcus’ screen partners tested negative for syphilis, but the Associated Press reported there were at least nine other cases of syphilis.

Health professionals encourage all Americans, particularly black Americans, to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD), to know their status and to ask current and potential partners about their health status as well.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual report last year, black and Hispanic Americans have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases than white Americans.

Black Americans represent just 14 percent of the population but 35 percent of all reported chlamydia cases, 48 percent of all syphilis cases and 69 percent of gonorrhea cases. Among young black men, the rate of syphilis increased 134 percent from 2006 to 2010.

STDs account for 19 million new infections annually, for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis alone, according to the CDC.

Left untreated, these diseases can lead to blindness, infertility, complications during pregnancy and, in extreme cases, death. Consequences from the diseases can be passed on from mother to infant at birth.

Further, the World Health Organization last month reported it is urging governments and physicians to step up their monitoring of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. The CDC has recommended physicians’ use a combination of protocols to treat the disease because there is currently just one antibiotic treatment that is effective against the most drug-resistant strain. Other treatments are recommended for milder forms of the disease so that they, too, will not become resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Because of a high rate of prior exposure to STDS, black Americans have a weaker resistance to HIV/AIDS and are urged to get tested for STDs, including HIV, as part of routine physicals and to take extra precautions in practicing safer sex. The CDC also urges Baby Boomers to get tested for possible exposure to hepatitis C, which can be transmitted a number of ways, including sexually. Boomers are at higher risk for the disease and because there are fewer symptoms initially, the disease may be in an advanced stage when diagnosed.

Click here for answers to your STD questions.

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