Clinic makes STD testing more accessible

There are more options for people in need of STD testing in northern Michigan thanks to expanding clinic services.

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in northern Michigan.

After seeing increased numbers in the first few months of this year, District Health Department No. ten decided to open an STD clinic.

The department covers a ten county radius, including Wexford and Osceola counties.

It typically sees a six percent rate of adults testing positive for STDs. So far this year, it's been near eleven percent.

â??There was a significant jump in the amount of positive cases in that time period,â?? said Sheryl Slocum, Family Planning and STD Clinic Supervisor.

Department ten is seeing more cases of Chlamydia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease.

â??Chlamydia is an infection that men and women often don't have any symptoms that they have it and they pass it along through sexual encounters,â?? explained Slocum.

Until now, there were limited choices for STD testing in northern Michigan. Department ten is looking to raise awareness among residents by creating an STD clinic. They say an early diagnosis can make all the difference.

â??A lot of women can experience infertility, chronic pelvic pain, tubal scarring that we could prevent if we got this infection tested and treated early,â?? said Rebecca Saucedo, a clinician with the health department.

The clinic has been up and running in Wexford and Mason counties for about six weeks. Starting next week, the services are spreading out.

â??We will be expanding it to our other eight counties. So they'll be able to have access to that testing,â?? said Slocum.

In the past, STD testing took place under the heading of family planning. Health officials say that title can deter men from showing up.

â??If we can offer that service as an STD clinic versus rolled into our family planning clinic, we felt it might be more comfortable for men to come in,â?? said Slocum.

According to national guidelines, all sexually active women under 25 should be tested every year.

â??Those at higher risk are being tested for HIV, Hepatitis, and sometimes Syphilis. It's very important that after you're treated that you're rechecked about three months later to make sure you haven't become re-infected,â?? said Saucedo.

â??We all know this isn't a monogamous world anymore. That certainly has to do with the rise in STD levels,â?? said Slocum.

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