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'Talk, Test, Treat': STI Awareness Week is April 14-20


Mon, Apr 15th 2024 12:25 pm

Erie County Department of Health encourages residents to test for and treat STIs 

Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health

“Talk, Test, Treat”: These three simple steps can have a powerful impact on your health. During STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Week, the Erie County Department of Health encourages people to take three simple actions – “Talk, Test, Treat” – to protect their health and their partners' health.

Sexually transmitted infections are preventable and treatable, and most can be cured. ECDOH urges individuals to talk by engaging in open and honest conversations with their partner(s) and health care provider about sexual health, sexual behaviors and risks for STIs. Testing is crucial to know whether you have an STI. If you test positive, treating your infections quickly and confidentially is imperative to ensure your continued health and to avoid transmission to others.

"Sexual health plays a crucial role in our comprehensive well-being," Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said. "Raising awareness consistently is essential for diminishing the stigma, fear, and long-term health effects associated with STIs. Actions like receiving vaccines for conditions like HPV and Mpox virus, maintaining open communication with partners, and undergoing regular testing are key to prevention."

Each year, thousands of Erie County residents are diagnosed with STIs, which are infectious diseases spread through sexual contact. Many more Erie County residents are likely infected and unaware of their status. Many STIs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, do not cause symptoms in many people. If you do not get a test, you may not know if you are infected with a STI. Nationwide, STIs like syphilis have surged following the pandemic.

“When STIs go untreated, patients are at risk for severe health problems, like infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and an increased risk for HIV,” Burstein said.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI, though rates of infection are highest among adolescents and young adults (ages 15-24 years), who make up about half of all new reported STI cases each year. However, anyone of any age, gender or sexual orientation can get an STI.

“We want Erie County residents, especially adolescents and young adults, to prioritize their sexual health and remember ‘Talk, Test and Treat’ when they go to the doctor’s office,” Burstein said. “People do not need to wait until an annual checkup to get their sexual health needs addressed; our Sexual Health Center, at 608 William St., is open to all.”

The American Sexual Health Association offers these conversation starters for patients as they seek STI testing: 

√ “I want to be screened for my own piece of mind. I’d like to be tested for. …” 

√ “I’m about to start having sex with someone new, and we’d both like to be tested first. I’d like to be tested for. …” 

√ “I’m worried I may have been exposed to something. I would like to be tested for. …” 

What INDIVIDUALS can do: 

√ If you are sexually active, or thinking of becoming sexually active, it is important that you “Talk. Test. Treat.” 

√ Talk with your partner(s) BEFORE having sex, and talk with your health care provider about your sex life as it relates to your health so that they can better understand what STI tests you should be getting and how often.

√ Get tested. Many STIs can have no symptoms. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an STI.

√ If you test positive for an STI, work with your health care provider to get the correct treatment.


√ Providing the best medical care possible means talking to your patients about sexual health, testing your patients for STIs as recommended, and following CDC’s STI treatment guidelines to ensure appropriate treatment and care.

√ To foster productive sexual health conversations, create a welcoming environment, ensure privacy and comfort, normalize discussions on sexual health, avoid assumptions, use open-ended questions, and clarify any misunderstandings. Counsel your patients on safer sex and ensure that they know about today’s many prevention options.

√ At the beginning of the visit, assure your patient’s confidentiality. NYS minors at any age can consent for their own sexual health care, making that visit information the minor’s HIPAA-protected personal health information. 

√ Recommend STI testing based on sexual history and patient demographics. Guidelines include HIV testing for all aged 13-64, annual tests for sexually active women under 25, and specific screenings for pregnant women, men who have sex with men, and those at risk. 

√ Adhere to the CDC's 2021 STI treatment guidelines for appropriate care, consider expedited partner therapy, monitor for reinfection, and act against drug-resistant gonorrhea with the recommended treatment.

For more information visit: 

√ Erie County Department of Health: https://www3.erie.gov/health/

√ Erie County Department of Health Sexual Health Center: https://www3.erie.gov/health/sexual-health-center // 608 William St., Buffalo

√ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/std/saw/talktesttreat/individuals.htm

√ Bedsider.org: https://www.bedsider.org/sexual-health-and-wellness/sexually-transmitted-infections-stds-stis

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