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MDHHS urges Michiganders to get tested as part of Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2022

CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - As part of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Awareness Week April 10-16, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is calling on all sexually active Michiganders to get tested for STIs and make regular testing a routine part of their health care.

"We can slow down the spread of STIs through routine testing. STI testing and treatment are critical and help to avoid serious complications, and testing is a normal part of our health maintenance to keep ourselves and our partners safe," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. "We hope to empower individuals not to be afraid to go get tested and treated for STIs."

Gonorrhea and chlamydia continue to be the most common STIs in Michigan, however recent data shows an alarming increase in the number of syphilis cases. These infections are all treatable. However, if left untreated these infections can lead to serious complications for both men and women, and continue to spread to others. MDHHS recommends that everyone who is sexually active be routinely tested for STIs, especially after having sex with a new partner. Individuals are urged to make sure that syphilis is included when getting tested for STIs. 

To coincide with STI Awareness Week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its 2020 STD surveillance report where new data suggests that STIs continue to increase on a national level. The CDC believes that disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated many factors contributing to increasing STI cases. These factors include reduced screening opportunities due to limited in-person interactions along with limited testing and staff resources. 

To combat the increase in STIs, MDHHS is working closely with local health departments and other care providers to raise awareness and support STI testing and treatment programs. In Michigan, clinicians have the option to use a treatment method called Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) in select cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. EPT helps individuals avoid reinfection by allowing the provider the option to prescribe antibiotics for sex partners of infected patients without examining them. Presumptively treating sex partners helps to reduce the overall spread of STIs, but is especially effective in preventing sex partners from reinfecting each other.

Understanding one's risk, talking about testing with partners, consistently and correctly using condoms, reducing the number of sex partners, getting prompt testing and treatment for STIs, and abstaining from sex are all effective strategies that individuals can use to protect themselves from STIs. Testing is available at local health departments and additional testing locations can be found at Michigan.gov/HIVSTI.

More information and resources are available on the CDC website. Data, resources and technical assistance for Michigan's STI program are available at Michigan.gov/HIVSTI.

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