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The Tompkins County Health Department reports an increase of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) locally. In 2016 we saw 374 cases of Chlamydia, a 9% increase from 2015; 81 Gonorrhea cases, a 47% increase from 2015; and 12 Syphilis cases, an alarming 200% increase from 2015.
STIs can be spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex and can be present without symptoms. Chlamydia has been referred to as “the silent killer”, as 7 out of 10 people who have the bacterial infection do not have any symptoms. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Gonorrhea is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage done by the disease.
Syphilis cases in Tompkins County have disproportionately affected males, and have ranged from 19 to 55 years of age. Many Syphilis cases have reported anonymous sexual encounters arranged through internet and mobile hook-up and dating apps, making it difficult or impossible to notify, educate and treat exposed partners.
Syphilis has been called “the great imitator” because it has many possible symptoms, which may look like other diseases. In a primary infection, a painless syphilis sore can be confused for an ingrown hair or other seemingly harmless bump. In a secondary infection, a non-itchy body rash can develop on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, or all over your body. You could also have syphilis and have very mild symptoms or none at all, hence the importance of getting STI testing as often as recommended based on your sexual behaviors.
The Tompkins County Health Department created a local version of the CDC’s “Talk. Test. Treat.” campaign. We encourage sexually active individuals to
talk to their partner(s) about sexually transmitted infections before having sex; get tested for STIs if engaging in sexual behaviors; and get treatment right away if you test positive for an STI.
Confidential, free or low-cost STI education, testing and treatment can easily be accessed at various locations throughout the county. For a complete list and contact information, please visit our website at http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/std, or call (607) 276-6604 for more information.