STD testing campaign kicks off in Steamboat
Local health centers offer reduced rates as part of national campaign
April 27, 2011
STD testing in Routt County
Planned Parenthood offers $10 STD testing and $10 HIV tests on a walk-in basis as a part of the Get Yourself Tested campaign. Call 970-879-2212.
First Tuesday of each month
The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association provides free office visits for STD tests on a walk-in basis; patients pay only for the cost of the test on a sliding scale. Call 970-879-1632.
The VNA offers free HIV tests and offers tests for other STDs on a sliding scale. Call 970-879-1632.
Pick up free condoms at Planned Parenthood and the VNA.
Steamboat Springs — The statistic is alarming to local health care workers: Half of all sexually active youths will contract a sexually transmitted disease before age 25.
And Routt County is right on par with those numbers, said Kim Boyce, a physician assistant at the women's clinic for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
"I think younger crowds are not as nervous about (STDs) because they don't think it will happen to them," Boyce said. "I've had multiple patients in disbelief and shock that it happened to them.
"Some others think it's no big deal."
But it is a big deal. Left untreated, Boyce said, STDs can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain and complex pregnancies.
That's why the VNA and Planned Parenthood are taking part in the Get Yourself Tested campaign to encourage youths and adults to "know your status."
Get Yourself Tested is in its fourth year as a partnership with the Centers For Disease Control, MTV, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Planned Parenthood.
As a part of the media campaign, Planned Parenthood is offering discounted STD testing opportunities on Friday, including $10 STD tests and $10 HIV tests.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains spokeswoman Monica McCafferty said the national campaign is designed to start an open conversation among young people about STDs and safe sex.
"This campaign is about talking and being open about protection," she said. "You can never tell if someone has an STD.
"There's no one way to know. As long as you know your status, as an individual, you know you're keeping your partner safe, as well."
Aimee Quadri, Planned Parenthood Steamboat Springs health center manager, said STDs affect people of all ages and all backgrounds.
"We are somewhat of a transient community, and we have a lot of people come in for the winter and summer to work. It's really important we're getting tested because we're not immune here," Quadri said.
As one of the most common STDs — and one that often doesn't show symptoms — chlamydia has an ever-increasing prevalence in Routt County and Colorado.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance Report, Colorado has a rate of 350 cases per 100,000 people as of 2007.
In Routt County, the rate was 144 people per 100,000, reflecting more than 30 cases in 2007.
There were just eight cases of chlamydia reported in 2003 in the same study.
Get Yourself Tested aims to counter those rising numbers by encouraging people to get tested, talk to their partners about protection and make safe choices.
Boyce said that abstinence is the only way to protect oneself 100 percent against all STDs; even condoms don't provide 100 percent protection. But encouraging sexually active youths and adults to get tested is a good start to bringing the STD rates down, she said.
"I hope it just brings more awareness in people — that they think it's more hip to get tested, in all honesty," Boyce said.
Quadri said in the last few years, the discount testing dates have been bringing in a variety of people, including adults and an increasing number of men, who can be asymptomatic carriers of STDs.
"It's very easy, it's not painful and it's fast and it's the right thing to do," Quadri said about getting tested. "For anyone that's had a new partner and hasn't been tested, it's absolutely the right thing to do."
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com