Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Know Your Risks

Tracy George, Guest Writer

Sexually transmitted diseases are most likely to be diagnosed in people ages 15-24, the age of most students at FMU. The Pee Dee area of South Carolina has some of the highest rates of STDs in the state of South Carolina. Sexually transmitted diseases can be spread by oral, vaginal, and rectal sex.

Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Region 4, which includes the Pee Dee counties, had the highest rates of chlamydia per 100,000 people in SC for 2011. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chlamydia often has no symptoms, so many people do not realize that they are infected with this STD.  If symptoms are present, they may include  vaginal or penile discharge or burning with urination.

DHEC Region 4 had the second highest rates of gonorrhea per 100,000 people in SC in 2011. According to the CDC, symptoms of gonorrhea may include vaginal or penile discharge, burning with urination, or bleeding between menstrual periods. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies.

HIV and AIDS are also prevalent in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. South Carolina ranked 8th in the US for cases of AIDS, and DHEC Region 4 had the highest rates of AIDS per 100,000 people in SC in 2011.  DHEC Region 4 is tied for the highest rate for HIV per 100,000 population in SC in 2011.

What can you do to protect yourself from STDS and HIV/AIDS? Abstinence is 100% effective at preventing STDS and pregnancy.  You may also reduce your risks by limiting your number of sex partners and using condoms all the time. Because many STDs may have no symptoms, it is important to be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV regularly.