This month, the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health, Walgreens and other local health agencies will be holding 43 screening opportunities for sexually transmitted infections, or STI screenings. The screenings are for HIV, hepatitis C and syphilis. They are set for June 24-27, leading up to National HIV Testing Day.
The full list of screening site locations, dates and times can be found here: LouisianaHealthHub.org.
The screenings are a component of a campaign launched by the Office of Public Health’s STD/HIV Program. Titled Start it! Louisiana, the campaign is designed to raise public awareness that sexually transmitted infections are common across the state and can cause serious health problems. Start It! emphasizes the importance of preventing, testing and treating STIs.
Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health, says it is important to get screened.
“It doesn’t matter how, it matters that you do,” he said. “Many of these infections don’t cause you to feel ill early on, so the first step to taking charge of your health is getting tested.”
The Start It! campaign also encourages people to:
- Start treatment for STIs (including starting HIV treatment),
- Start talking about sexual health,
- Start visiting org for accurate information on STI prevention, or
- Start using condoms for every sexual encounter, for example.
Why it matters
Louisiana has some of the highest STD rates in the United States, according to the CDC’s 2017 STD Surveillance Report:
- #1 for congenital syphilis case rates (newborns with syphilis)
- #2 for chlamydia case rates
- #3 for primary and secondary syphilis case rates (most infectious stages)
- #3 for gonorrhea case rates
The STD/HIV Program, local community partners and healthcare leaders are working diligently to address the increasing rates of these diseases, as well as hepatitis C, syphilis and others. These efforts are further enhanced when the community is involved and educated about STIs, how they are spread and how to prevent transmission.