April is STD (sexually transmitted diseases) awareness month. STDs are a major public health issue in the United States. This month-long observance is an opportunity to raise public awareness about the impact of STDs and the importance of preventing, testing, and treating STDs. HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea are the most common STDs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as much as half of the estimated 20 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that occur in the U.S. each year are among people under the age of 25. The CDC also estimates that there are more than 110 million STIs among men and women in the US. This includes both new and existing infections.
The theme of National STD awareness month 2015 is “Know the Facts and GYT: Get Yourself Tested”. The GYT campaign is a youth-oriented, empowering social movement to encourage young people to get tested and treated for STDs and HIV. GYT campaign materials have been developed for doctors, health departments, school administrators, and community-based organizations to help young people increase their knowledge about STD prevention and testing.
The CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV. In any case, people who think they have been exposed to an infection should get tested.
According to a report published in January, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation conducted 155,842 HIV tests in nine U.S. states in 2014 and found that 98.8 percent of those tested were HIV negative. These testing programs were able to identify 1,871 individuals living with HIV, who are now getting quality medical care and drug treatment options that will help save their lives.
STD tests may include physical exams and testing of blood and urine samples. Rapid HIV tests can detect HIV antibodies in the blood and provide results in a few minutes, eliminating the stress of waiting several days for results.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted CLIA waiver for Alere’s Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo Test. This test can identify HIV infection early as it detects p24 antigen, which can appear days after infection and prior to HIV-1/2 antibodies. The HIV Antigen/Antibody (Ag/Ab) Combo Assay from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics also allows earlier detection and diagnosis of HIV infection by detecting both the antigen and the responding antibodies simultaneously.