Valley medical experts emphasize importance of STD testing as cases rise nationally

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - There has been a sharp increase in rates of sexually transmitted diseases across the country. Some medical professionals are beginning to it call an ‘epidemic.’

Experts at the Blue Ridge Free Clinic in Harrisonburg said to attempt to bring these numbers down both nationally and locally, the first step is prevention.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are actually a very serious issue, and so, we really encourage people to get screened. Sometimes there’s hesitancy. People are embarrassed or they’re ashamed, but they really need to know that from the medical standpoint, we just want to help them stay healthy,” Family Nurse Practitioner Susan Adamson said.

In a preliminary report from the CDC, there was a 26% increase in Syphilis cases in the United States in 2021. Adamson and her colleagues said this disease can cause severe health problems, like neurological issues and even death if not treated.

“These sexually transmitted diseases are not benign. Even though there is adequate treatment, we can treat them and cure them, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia, but that doesn’t mean that you should be cavalier about that. Men and women, anyone that’s having sex should be advocating for their own health,” Nurse Practitioner Lynne Eggert said.

Both Adamson and Eggert noted they’ve seen an increase in adults coming in requesting STD testing at the clinic, mostly due to the lack of access during the pandemic.

Blue Ridge Free Clinic offers STD testing, which is processed by laboratory staff Sentara RMH. The clinic’s hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.