LAS VEGAS — It is STD Awareness Month, and the Southern Nevada Health District is offering free rapid HIV testing 8 a.m. – noon, Monday through Friday through the end of April. Each year, it is estimated that there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) can have long-term health consequences and many have no initial symptoms. The Health District is encouraging Clark County residents to discuss their sexual health with their health care providers. Information, testing, and treatment is available at the agency's Sexual Health Clinic, located at 280 S. Decatur Blvd. Clients can also call (702) 759-0702 for information.
In February, the Health District announced a 128 percent increase in reported early syphilis cases since 2012. With the highest rates of syphilis in the Western United States, the Health District encourages testing and advises physicians to discuss their patients' sexual histories. Testing is the only way to ascertain whether or not someone is infected with an STD.
Most STDs can be easily treated and cured; HIV is not curable but is treatable. As part of National STD Awareness Month, the Southern Nevada Health District encourages everyone to get tested and get the facts about sexually transmitted diseases. The Health District's Sexual Health Clinic provides testing, treatment, exams, referrals, and counseling for $40; HIV testing is also available. All visits are confidential.
In addition to testing at the Sexual Health Clinic, HIV/syphilis screenings are available Monday – Thursday at the Gay & Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, 401 S. Maryland Parkway, (702) 733-9800.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
Annual Chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Annual gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women younger than 25 years, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Syphilis, HIV, Chlamydia, and hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women, and gonorrhea screening for at-risk pregnant women starting early in pregnancy, with repeat testing as needed, to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
Screening at least once a year for syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners should be screened more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3-to-6 month intervals).
Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should be tested for HIV at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
The Southern Nevada Health District encourages everyone to discuss their sexual histories with their intimate partners as well as discussing their histories with their health care providers.
In 2015, there were more than 10,000 cases of Chlamydia as well as over 2,700 reports of gonorrhea and 694 early syphilis cases diagnosed in Clark County. Nationwide, half of all new STDs occur in people between the ages 15 and 24. The CDC estimates that sexually transmitted infections cost approximately $16 billion in direct medical costs. The high incidence of STDs in the general population suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
In addition, the CDC advises older couples to use safer sexual practices and to discuss their histories with their health care providers and partners. While the rates of HIV and STDs are not as high in adults over the age of 50, they are still at risk for infection if they don't use safer sexual practices and use condoms every time.
The highest rates of infection occur in young women, African Americans, men who have sex with men, and individuals who have limited or no access to health care. The CDC recommends routine Chlamydia testing for women under age 25 and for women who are pregnant or have new or multiple partners. In addition, the CDC also recommends routine HIV testing for people between the ages of 13-64.
Untreated STDs can have long-term consequences. Left untreated gonorrhea and Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can cause infertility. Each year, STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the United States to become infertile. If untreated, syphilis can lead to brain, cardiovascular, and organ damage. In pregnant women, syphilis can result in congenital syphilis (syphilis in babies), stillbirths, infant death soon after birth (40 percent of cases), or physical deformities and neurological complications in children who survive. STDs increase the risk of HIV transmission for men and women. The CDC also recommends that men who have sex with men should also be tested for Chlamydia as well as gonorrhea and syphilis.