Officals urging STD tests as infections rise statewide

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The sexually transmitted disease, chlamydia, is on the rise in Texas and has local health officials urging tests.In 1999, there were 65,525 reported cases of chlamydia in Texas, compared 60,626 in 1998.Keith Lott, director of the Health Center on campus, said it sees approximately 100 students infected with some type of STD each year.Some include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, hepatitis B, PID and AIDS, he said.Lott said STDs could be contracted during any type of sexual contact. Possible consequences of contracting the diseases can include infertility, blindness, memory loss, brain damage, cervical cancer in women, low self-esteem and problems with future relationships and death, he said.Lott said any students engaging in sexual activities are putting themselves at risk.The only way to avoid being infected with a STD is abstinence, he said. In todays society, that can be very difficult with the blatant promotion of sexuality and sexual promiscuity.Lott said students need to stand up for what it right, rather than compromise their health.They should clarify their values regarding sexual activity independent of outside influences such as boyfriends or girlfriends, he said.Lott said STDs are also known as the silent epidemic because people do not want to let others know they are infected with the disease.People dont like to talk about it, he said.Chlamydia is the most frequently reported infectious disease in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 4 million people are infected each year.In 1999, there were 235 reported cases of chlamydia in Walker County.Although there have been many cases in the area, Sid Arnett at the Texas Department of Health in Austin said they are more common in high populated areas.Like Houston and Dallas, he said.Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.It is most prevalent among young adults and teen-agers than any other STD, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.When diagnosed, chlamydia can be easily treated and cured. Untreated, chlamydia can cause severe, costly reproductive and other health problems.In women, chlamydia can result in adverse outcomes of pregnancy and pneumonia.In young men, who are seldom offered screening, untreated chlamydia causes urethal infection that can result in swollen and tender testicles, according to the Prevention.Some symptoms of chlamydia in women include bleeding after intercourse or menstrual periods, abdominal or pelvic pain.About 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men have no symptoms of the infection, according to AVSC International.Chlamydia in both men and women can be treated and cured with antibiotics.Lott said the Health Center offers confidential treatments for chlamydia, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.He said patients can either be given medication or ointment. It depends on the disease, he said.To get tested or for more information on STDs contact the Health Center at 294-1805. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.