HDHHS recommends residents assess risks
Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) urges
residents to assess their risk for sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) by learning about behaviors that increase their odds of
becoming infected. HDHHS also encourages Houstonians to get tested
so they know their STD status.
April is STD Awareness Month.
Since signs or symptoms of STDs are often
not present or difficult to detect, HDHHS recommends partners
talk to each other about any potential risk for STDs. If left
untreated, STDs such as syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea can
result in infertility, chronic pain and a two to five fold increase
in the likelihood of contracting and spreading HIV, the virus
that causes AIDS.
STDs are spread during sexual activity,
including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Some STDs are also spread
by contact with infected blood. Below are a range of recommendations
that help protect people from becoming infected with an STD.
- Abstain from sex or have
sex with only a monogamous uninfected partner; talk to sexual
partners about their STD status; use a latex condom; get tested
for STDs regularly; know the signs and symptoms of STDs; get
treated if infected and don’t have sex until treatment is
Many STDs have similar symptoms.
Many infected people have no symptoms at all, but those that
could develop include:
- Unusual discharge
or odor from vagina; pain in pelvic area; burning or itching
around vagina; vaginal bleeding between menstrual cycles or
periods; unusual pain during sex
- Drip or discharge
from sex organs; unusual pain during sex
Both women and
- Sores, bumps
or blisters near or on sex organs, rectum or mouth; burning
and pain when urinating or having bowel movement; urinating
often; itching around sex organs; swelling or redness in throat;
flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and aches; swelling
in groin or area around sex organs
immediate testing to those who notice any STD symptom or suspect
an infection, prompt treatment to those infected and informing
sexual partners they possibly exposed to an STD. HDHHS has STD
clinics and private doctors also treat STDs.
Although STDs can affect anyone, certain groups appear to be
at higher risk.
In Houston and Harris County, 88 percent of syphilis cases in
the early—infectious—stages occur in people age 20 to 49. Eighty
three percent of cases are among males, a figure attributed
to the syphilis outbreak in recent years among gay and bisexual
men. White men represent half of the cases in the outbreak,
followed by Hispanic men at 25 percent and black men, 24 percent.
Among all early syphilis cases, 28 percent are in Hispanics,
36 percent in black and 35 percent in whites.
Eighty six percent of chlamydia cases occur in people 15 to
29 years of age. Cases among females are disproportionately
high, making up 83 percent of the chlamydia cases. Chlamydia
can destroy a woman’s reproductive system and cause chronic
pain. Among women, 34 percent of cases occur in Hispanics, 35
percent in blacks and 9 percent in whites. Among all male and
female chlamydia cases, 33 percent of cases occur among Hispanics,
37 percent among blacks and 9 percent among whites.
In Houston and Harris County, 88 percent of gonorrhea cases
occur among people age 15 to 39. The breakdown between both
sexes is relatively equal, with 53 percent men and 47 percent
women. Thirteen percent of cases occur among Hispanics,
64 percent among blacks and 7 percent among whites.
For more information about STD prevention and education, call
HDHHS’ HIV/STD Hotline at 713-794-9020. For
additional STD statistics for Houston and Harris County, visit
HDHHS’ HIV/STD web pages.