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Public Health - News

Posted on: October 27, 2021

STI Rates on the Rise in Jeffco — Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

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Jefferson County, Colo. — With rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rising in the county, especially among young adults and teens, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) urges our residents to be aware of their risk and take important steps to protect themselves. Though historically Jefferson County has seen lower rates of STIs than Colorado as a whole, rates of infection with STIs — particularly chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — have been steadily climbing in Jeffco for the last five years. This means an increased risk for all individuals who are having unprotected sex with new partners. 

From 2019 to 2020, Jeffco experienced a 23.4% increase in chlamydia rates, 22.4% increase in gonorrhea rates and 41% increase in syphilis rates (rates per 100,000 people). The highest rates of new STI cases are found among young adults, emphasizing the need for prevention among this age group. In addition, in 2020 and 2021 there was an identified cluster of HIV cases within 15-19-year-olds in Jeffco. No additional cases have been reported, but testing is encouraged for anyone who meets national HIV screening guidelines.

“What many people don’t realize about sexually transmitted infections is that they can be transmitted through any kind of intercourse, and even more importantly, sometimes, you can have an STI and not know it. The only way to know for sure is to get tested. That way, you can protect yourself and your sexual partner or partners,” said Kelly Conroy, Associate Director of Clinical Health Services at JCPH. “The earlier an STI is detected, the better the long-term outcomes are. Plus, additional cases and spread of STIs are easily prevented if people are tested early and often.”

Many STIs can be fully cured, especially when detected as soon as possible. Even for those that can’t be cured, treatment is available after you take that first step of seeing a healthcare provider, like JCPH. There are several easy prevention steps people can take to protect themselves from STIs: 

  • If you are at risk, get tested. It’s easy and convenient, and you can do it at home via mail-in kits. To learn more about these options, visit https://cdphe.mybinxhealth.com or call our clinic 303-239-7078.
    • You can get tested in-person at JCPH. We offer low- to no-cost testing at our centrally-located office in Lakewood (645 Parfet St.). All test results are confidential, and no parental consent is needed.
      • Many people have delayed routine screenings, such as STI screenings, because of COVID-19 concerns and a lack of availability. However, JCPH is fully open and has STI services readily available at our clinic.
  • Ensure correct use of protective barriers, such as condoms, internal condoms or dental dams, with every sex partner.
  • Use personal lubrication to protect the tissue from abrasions and microtears, which increase the transmission of several STIs
  • Reducing your number of sexual partners may decrease STIs, and no matter how many partners a person has, there are many tools they use for prevention.
  • Feel empowered to ask your partner(s) to get tested. You can go get tested together, too, to help ease any concerns. 
  • Testing services are confidential. Your provider can help you find ways to navigate your next steps in a safe and discreet manner.
  • If you are concerned about your risk of getting HIV, talk to your healthcare provider about PrEP, a medication that, when taken correctly, significantly reduces the risk of contracting the virus.

To help address this rising concern in Jeffco, JCPH is re-launching its 2019 campaign, Sex Facts Jeffco (Info Sexo Jeffco in Spanish). This campaign was developed for teens and young adults, particularly women, who have a low income and are uninsured or use Medicaid, and was transcreated for our Latinx community. Transcreation means focusing on developing messages and visuals for multiple diverse audiences in different languages from the outset, rather than simply translating content from one language to another word-for-word. The campaign was informed by research and tested with people in the target audience. JCPH has begun to share and promote these messages on our channels and we encourage anyone in our community to share them as well. To learn more about Sex Facts Jeffco, please visit www.jeffco.us/3895/Sex-Facts-Jeffco

“The more you know about your own body, the more empowered you can be to make decisions for your health, your relationships and your lifestyle. JCPH is here to help you with any information you need to make those choices,” Conroy said. “Jefferson County has consistently lower rates of STIs than the rest of the state, which is good news. It shows we have curbed the spread of STIs before, and we can do it again.”

To make an appointment at JCPH’s sexual health clinic, please call us at 303-239-7078. You can also learn more about sexually-transmitted infections at https://www.jeffco.us/2121/Sexually-Transmitted-Infections. To find alternative testing locations and more information, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.

About Jefferson County Public Health 

Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.

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