Blue Ridge Health District seeing increase in sexually transmitted infections
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Compared to last year, the Blue Ridge Health District says it has seen a notable increase in patients being treated for STIs. The health department is urging that people get tested now to slow spread.
“We can stop this trend of the increased rates of STIs if we work together as a community,” BRHD community HIV testing coordinator Norman Dorise said.
BRHD says the steady increase in sexually transmitted infections was first noted eight years ago. It seems to show no signs of slowing down yet.
Norman Dorise with BRHD says there was an 81% increase in syphilis cases from 2014-2018, and its numbers continue to rise. He says the district is seeing a lot of the infection right now.
Dorise says it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause for the spike, but he says that a lack of awareness is most likely a big factor. He also noted that the pandemic prevented a large percentage of people from getting tested for STIs.
“One of the things that people don’t realize is that there are a lot of STIs that can that you can get that do not present symptoms,” Dorise said. “That stigma around them is what really, really hurts a lot of people as far as being tested and getting treatment.”
BRHD has free walk-in STI testing available every third Thursday of month. This month’s testing clinic takes place on Tuesday, April 18, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Charlottesville/Albemarle Health Department on Rose Hill Drive. No appointment, insurance papers or ID is needed.
A survey can help you determine which resources you should utilize at the BRHD.
The health department offers rapid HIV testing and free at home test kits for HIV. It also has free condom distribution to the community if people go in and ask for a “black bag,” or you can order from the department and get them mailed directly to your home if you call 434-989-3292.
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