It’s STI Awareness Week: Know Your Status!

By Barrett White and Jill Jahns, Health Navigation Director

As we step into STI Awareness Week (April 14-20), it’s time to spotlight a crucial health conversation that often lurks in the shadows of taboo, misinformation, and stigma. At Legacy Community Health, we’re committed to reinforcing the importance of sexual health awareness by speaking on the topic and offering free walk-in HIV testing and affordable full panel STI testing.

The Reality of STIs

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), sometimes also commonly called STDs, are more prevalent than many might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of new STI cases are reported in the United States each year. Among these, the most common infections include Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis.

  • Chlamydia ranks as the second most prevalent, particularly among young adults aged 15-24. It is the only STI where women have a higher rate of diagnosis than men.
  • Gonorrhea has seen a 32% increase in Texas in the past four years. It is especially prevalent in communities of color. It has become particularly resistant to antibiotics and if someone is diagnosed with gonorrhea, it is especially important to fully follow your provider’s instructions for taking medication.
  • Syphilis has also increased by 79% in the last four years. In Houston, we are amid a syphilis outbreak with little sign of slowing. There has been a particularly troubling increase in congenital syphilis cases, which is when syphilis is passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.

These statistics underscore a critical need for regular testing and education, as early detection can prevent severe health complications and the spread of these infections.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Many STIs can be silent, displaying minimal to no symptoms, and thereby increasing the risk of unknowingly transmitting the infection to others. However, some signs should prompt immediate testing:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination or intercourse
  • Sores, blisters, or rashes on or around the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Unexplained skin changes, lumps, or growths in the genital area
  • Painful or swollen lymph nodes in the groin

If you or your partner experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to get tested as soon as possible.

Legacy’s Commitment to Your Health

At Legacy, we understand how important it is to know your STI status. That’s why we offer free walk-in HIV testing and affordable full panel STI testing, ensuring that everyone has access to the services they need to stay healthy. We believe that getting tested should not be a source of anxiety, but an empowering decision for one’s health and wellbeing.

And bring your partner! There’s power in taking control of your sexual health together. It’s not just responsible, it’s sexy! Know your status and defend each other’s health as a team.

Making Testing a Part of Your Routine

STI testing should be a regular part of your healthcare routine, just like dental check-ups or annual physicals. Early detection and treatment of STIs can prevent serious health problems and help stop the spread of infection to others.

Did you know? Regular testing is especially important because many STIs can be treated and cured with simple antibiotics.

Your sexual health is important, and at Legacy we’re here to support you every step of the way. If you would like to make an appointment with your Legacy provider, please visit us online or call us at (832) 546-5000.