INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise across the nation, including in Indiana.
Teens and young adults are among the most affected, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
On Friday, News 8 spoke with local officials working to slow or stop the rise.
“We know that people are oftentimes having sex at much younger ages today. Even in high school age ranges, there’s a big growth in sexually transmitted diseases. We really see the largest growth in that 18 to 24-year-old range,” said Alan Witchey, president and CEO of the Damien Center.
Data from the Indiana State Department of Health shows more cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia were recorded in 2018 than in 2017.
Nationally, young women ages 15-24 accounted for nearly half of reported cases of chlamydia last year.
“In their minds, I think young people really think they’re invincible. They don’t have the knowledge that they could get a disease, and it could affect them for such a long period of their lives,” Witchey said.
“They’re not aware of the association of STIs with HIV. Many times, those both are diagnosed at the same time,” said Marti Greenwald, a nurse practitioner with IU Health.
If left untreated, STDs put men, women and even babies at risk and can cause long-term pelvic or abdominal pain or even result in infertility.
The good news is antibiotics can cure most STDs. Education, prevention and treatment are key, according to both the Damien Center and IU Health.
The bottom line, according to to both: Get yourself tested.
“These test results are confidential,” Greenwald said.
“I’d say the most important thing is to go, learn your status, get treatment and change your behavior,” Witchey said.
The Damien Center hasresources on:
IU Health LifeCare is the largest provider of HIV treatment and medical prevention services in Indiana. IU Health also has resources about living with HIV, as well as other services at the Bellflower Clinic.