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April is STD Awareness Month in Maryland | Health

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April is STD Awareness Month in Maryland

This story comes to us from Karen Black:

During the month of April, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) will join federal, state, and local partners around the country in the observance of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Awareness Month. DHMH will partner with healthcare providers throughout the State and regional federal health agencies to ensure that clinicians have the latest information on diagnosing, treating, and preventing syphilis in Maryland.


"Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases remain a serious public health concern in Maryland," said DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D."Marylanders should take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones."


To help combat this disease, DHMH is collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to present the webcast "Syphilis in Maryland: Populations at Risk," today, Wednesday, April 20 from noon to 1:30 pm. Attendees will receive free continuing medical education credits through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health professionals interested in joining the webinar can register at www.jhsph.edu/maphtc.


"We encourage health care providers to discuss sexual health issues with their patients, and provide sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment as appropriate," said Heather Hauck, Director of DHMH's Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration. "If patients and their sexual partners get proper medical treatment, they may avoid life-long complications."


According to the CDC, Maryland had the 12th highest rate on syphilis in the U.S. in 2009 at 5.2 cases per 100,000 population, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.6.  In 2009, there were 23,474 cases of Chlamydia reported in Maryland with a rate of 421.5 per 100,000 population. The national Chlamydia rate for the same period was 409.2. During 2009, 6,395 Marylanders reported cases of gonorrhea with a rate of 113.5 per 100,000 population compared with a national rate of 99.1.


In Maryland, infection rates for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, are consistently higher than the national average. The Maryland age group that is most impacted by gonorrhea and chlamydia is 15 - 24 year olds, who represent more than 20,000 of the new cases in 2009. Across Maryland, STIs also disproportionately impact females, people of color, and men who have sex with men. Local health departments around the State provide free STD testing and treatment.


In addition, DHMH and local health departments are participating in a national campaign entitled, "GYT: Get Yourself Talking, Get Yourself Tested." GYT (GYTnow.org) is sponsored through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The campaign utilizes social media and an interactive website to help young people make positive decisions about their sexual health. The website provides information about STIs, toolkits to promote STI testing in the community, and resources for healthcare providers on how to better serve teen and young adult patients.


To sign-in to the webcast, participants can go to www.jhsph.edu/maphtc. To learn more about STIs in Maryland or to find a testing site near you, please click on STD Awareness Month under "Hot Topics" at http://dhmh.Maryland.gov/ or call 410- 767- 6690.