Sexual Health Awareness Month (2022) – District 10 Health Department
According to the World Health Organization:
- STIs have a direct impact on sexual and reproductive health through stigma, infertility, cancers and pregnancy complications and can increase the risk of HIV.
- There is no cure for HIV infection. However, with increased access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead a long and healthy life.
- Most herpes infections are asymptomatic, but symptoms of herpes include painful blisters or ulcers that may recur over time.
The American Health Association defines sexual health as the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, according to the World Health Organization, and not just the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.
Being sexually healthy means:
- Understand that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
- Recognize and respect the sexual rights that we all share.
- Have access to sexual health information, education and care.
- Make an effort to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and seek care and treatment if needed.
- Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction and intimacy whenever desired.
- Being able to communicate about sexual health with others, including sexual partners and health care providers.
Sexual health has been recognized as a key strategy to promote overall health and well-being, including:
- Family planning
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS
- reproductive health
- Risky sexual behavior
Talking to a healthcare provider about your sexual health can be daunting. You might feel embarrassed by the questions you ask yourself; you may not want to admit certain feelings or fears about your health. However, being able to talk to your healthcare provider about your physical health as it relates to your sexual health is crucial.
The District Health Department #10 Family Planning Program provides high-quality reproductive health care to women, men, and adolescents at little or no cost. Family planning is a public health service that helps individuals and families plan their family size and the spacing of desired children or prevent unwanted pregnancy. Find the following at DHD#10;
- Information on birth control and sexual health
- Help choosing the most suitable method of contraception your life
- Helps plan a healthy pregnancy when you want a baby
- Pregnancy test and counseling
- Screening and treatment of STIs
- Preventive health exams to screen for cancer or other health problems
- Services are billed based on your ability to pay
- You can use your insurance, including Medicaid
A happy and healthy sex life starts with getting tested. Yes, STI testing is also an important part of sexual health. People with multiple sexual partners, those who believe they have been exposed, those who have had unprotected sex with a partner whose medical condition was unknown, or anyone who shows symptoms of an STI should definitely get tested. .
- More than one million STIs are contracted every day worldwide.
- Each year, an estimated 374 million new infections are caused by 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
- The majority of STIs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms that may not be recognized as an STI.
- It is estimated that more than 500 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 have genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection (1).
If you think you have an STI, first of all, don’t panic. You should make an appointment to get tested immediately and suspend all sexual activity until you are tested. To make an appointment call 888-217-3904, then select option #2. After your test result, a nurse can discuss safer sex, treatment options, birth control, how to talk to your partner, and more. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask!
- HIV continues to be a major global public health problem, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died of HIV-related causes worldwide.
- 54% of adults and 43% of children living with HIV are currently receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).
- Global ART coverage for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV is high at 76%.
- Key populations are groups that are at increased risk of contracting HIV, regardless of the type of epidemic or local context. They include: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people.
- There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people living with HIV and those at significant risk can lead healthy, long and productive lives.
At DHD#10, you can get confidential testing for STIs and HIV. The test is available to everyone, including teenagers, at low cost or free (cost is based on income). DHD#10 may also bill your insurance to cover the cost of the service. DHD#10 services are LGBTQ friendly.
DHD#10 – Sexual Health
ASHA – Working to Promote Sexual Health
WHO – Fact Sheet on STIs
CDC – Reproductive Health
CDC – Risky Sexual Behaviors
CDC – About HIV
CDC – About AIDS