*Augusta* - The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, is joining the nation in recognizing April as Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month. This year's theme is Know the Facts and GYT: Get Yourself Tested.
STDs occur mostly among younger populations, but can affect anyone. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, many people make false assumptions about how STD tests are performed, who should get tested, and the treatment of STDs. This may prevent people from seeking the testing and treatment they need.
In the United States, there are approximately 20 million STDs diagnosed annually, with nearly half occurring in teenagers and young adults. For example, in 2014, Maine had 3,538 cases of Chlamydia reported, with 68 percent of the cases occurring in 15 to 24 year-olds. Gonorrhea accounted for 243 cases with 53 percent of the cases being diagnosed in 20 to 29 year-olds.
All STDs are preventable and can be treated. Most have no physical signs or symptoms, so the only way to know with certainty is to be tested. Left untreated, some STDs can have significant long-term health consequences, like being unable to have children or long-term pelvic pain for example.
Several events have taken place this month to help raise awareness of STDs. Other events planned are being held at:
* The University of Southern Maine, Tuesday, April 14, noon to 3 p.m., Sullivan Gym in Portland
* The Frannie Peabody Center, Tuesday, April 21, noon to 5 p.m., 2 Medical Care Drive #3 in Biddeford
* Portland Public Health, Thursday, April 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 103 India Street in Portland
For more information about where to get testing, treatment, or disease reporting in Maine, please visit http://www.mainepublichealth.gov/std .