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STD Prevention for Travellers

July is peak season for vacationing. While on vacation, many of us find ourselves in a more relaxed state, enjoying tropical drinks, warm weather, and a slower pace. Unfortunately, this relaxed mind frame sometimes carries over to cause reduced vigilance about STD prevention.

It’s important that you make efforts to stay healthy while you are traveling. Here are some of the ways that you can work on STD prevention on vacation

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Four Reasons You Need to Get Tested for HIV Today

Affordable HIV testing services | ARCpoint Labs

All too often, people only think about the fun part of having sex, not the repercussions. Engaging in sexual relationships comes with many responsibilities that people often fail to think about.

One responsibility that comes with sex is keeping yourself and others free from harmful diseases such as HIV. According to some reports, as many as 20 percent of the people who have HIV don’t know it.

Fortunately, people can pursue HIV testing to help combat the spread of this potentially devastating disease. Here are some reasons why HIV testing is so vital for safeguarding your health.

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Managing Your STD Risk

June 16-22 marks Healthcare Risk Management Week. One of the most important ways ways to manage health risks is to find ways to lessen your STD risk. ARCpoint Labs is here to help with some ideas to keep you healthy.

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CDC Reports 2012 STD Rates on the Rise

Each year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) releases its report revealing past STD rates, patterns, and observations. This January 2014, the full 2012 STD report came out, revealing that STD rates are on the rise nationally.

By viewing and understanding these STD rates, health care providers can predict trends for the upcoming year, helping them better adjust treatment plans and educational outreach.

How did STD rates change from 2011 to 2012? And what are some steps to prevent the spread of STDs, according to the CDC? Here are the facts.

2012 STD Rates

Because data on other STDs such as herpes, trichomoniasis, and human papillomavirus (HPV) often go unreported, the CDC’s 2012 report focuses on chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Despite their higher report rates, many cases of these STDs also go undiagnosed and thus unreported — which means that the CDC’s report reveals only a hint of the reality of STDs in America.

STD Rates on the Rise

Compared to 2011, the 2012 STD rates all increased except for congenital syphilis:

  • ARCpoint Labs | CDC Reports 2012 STD Rates on the RiseChlamydia: 1,422,976 cases reported in 2012 compared to 1,412,791 in 2011, with the STD rates per 100,000 people increased by 0.7%
  • Gonorrhea: 334,826 cases reported in 2012 compared to 321,849 in 2011, with the STD rates per 100,000 people increased by 4.1% in the third consecutive year of rising rates
  • Syphilis (primary & secondary): 15,667 cases reported in 2012 compared to 13,970 in 2011 with the STD rates per 100,000 people increased 11.1%
  • Syphilis (congenital): 322 cases reported in 2012 compared to 360 in 2011, with the STD rates per 100,000 people decreased by 10%

Groups With the Highest STD rates

STDs can infect anyone, but according to the 2012 data, the following STD rates are highest among certain groups.

Syphilis

Men who have sex with men (MSM) have higher STD rates when it comes to syphilis, making up 75% of all people with the most infectious forms of syphilis (primary and secondary). When the disease in primary or secondary form goes untreated, it can lead to stroke and visual impairment, plus place the infected person at more risk for contracting HIV.

The CDC notes that risk behaviors such as unprotected sex do contribute to these higher levels of syphilis, but also that social factors like lower economic status and the prevalence of homophobia may prevent gay, bisexual, and MSM from seeking treatment for the disease. To stop these rising STD rates, we should focus on eliminating the social stigma linked with syphilis, and also encourage all sexually active gay, bisexual, and MSM to be screened for syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV at least yearly.

Gonorrhea & Chlamydia

Like in previous years, the 2012 CDC data on STD rates reveals that gonorrhea and chlamydia are most prevalent among Americans ages 15 – 24. Though both young adult men and women are affected by these soaring STD rates, the long-term repercussions are felt more heavily among women who run the risk of infertility due to undiagnosed STDs.

To combat these climbing STD rates, the CDC suggests yearly chlamydia screenings for sexually active women age 25 and under, plus gonorrhea screenings for at-risk women who are sexually active — for example, women with multiple sexual partners, or women who live in areas with high STD rates.

Fight Rising STD Rates With ARCpoint Labs

Worried you may be at risk for STD infection? Combat the inflating STD rates by getting confidential, reliable walk-in STD testing from your local ARCpoint Labs. We offer individual STD testing as well as comprehensive STD panels to detect a variety of diseases.

To lower your risk of STD rates, find the nearest ARCpoint Labs that offers STD testing!

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Preventing Cervical Cancer With STD Testing

Did you know that January is Cervical Health Awareness Month? That makes it a perfect time for women to educate themselves on the causes of cervical cancer, including strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Although an HPV vaccination is available, the STD is still extremely common — almost every person who is sexually active will face exposure at some point.

Around 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Fortunately, it can be prevented or treated if it is caught early enough. In honor of Cervical Health Awareness month, here are some steps to take to support your cervical health.

Preventing Cervical Cancer

Get Screened Regularly

ARCpoint Labs | Preventing Cervical Cancer With STD TestingBetween the ages of 21 and 65, women should get regular cervical cancer screenings. The most common type of cervical cancer screening is the pap smear, which looks for precancers, which are cellular changes on the cervix that could develop into cervical cancer without treatment. Starting at age 21 you should receive a pap smear once per year; continue having them until you turn 65, even if you are not sexually active. Catching the problem early on through screenings can help you better treat cervical cancer.

Another cervical cancer screening is the HPV test. HPV is the root of cellular changes, so its presence can indicate the possibility of cervical cancer. Although HPV is widespread and can stay in your system for two years, it doesn’t have noticeable symptoms, which means many people may not know that they have the virus. That’s why getting screened for the causes of cervical cancer is so important.

Get Your HPV Vaccination

HPV vaccination, which is administered in three shots over 6 months, can protect against HPV infection, which in turn helps prevent cervical cancer. The ideal time to be vaccinated is at age 11 or 12 for girls and boys, but males can seek vaccination through age 21, and females through age 26. Cervarix and Gardasil are the two HPV vaccines that protect women against cervical cancer.

Get STD Testing

Even though you may think you don’t need STD testing, the truth is that everyone — even those who have never been sexually active — is at risk for HPV and other STDs. You can get tested specifically for causes of cervical cancer like HPV, but it’s also a good idea to get tested for other STDs. Detecting and treating your STDs will improve your overall health.

Prevent Cervical Cancer – Get STD Testing at ARCpoint Labs Today!

At ARCpoint Labs, we care about your total wellness, including your cervical health. Early detection and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases leads to a healthier you, which is why many of our locations offer comprehensive STD testing.

Find the ARCpoint Lab near you and get reliable, confidential STD testing done today!

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Why STD Testing is Important for Women

ARCpoint Labs | Why STD Testing is Important for WomenIf you’re a woman who has never contracted an STD, you might wonder why STD testing is important for you. Even if you’ve only slept with a few trusted partners or one person, you can catch an STD without knowing it — even from something so innocent as receiving a kiss on the cheek. Many people are unaware how easy it is to contract an STD, especially from someone who hasn’t completed STD testing and isn’t aware that they have the STD in the first place.

When you consider that more than 110 million Americans have an STD and an estimated 19 million more are infected per year, STD testing doesn’t seem like an unnecessary step. The likelihood that you know someone who currently has an STD constantly rises.

Still, many women think that STDs can’t or won’t happen to them. Wondering why you should consider STD testing? Here’s why.

STD Testing: Why It’s Necessary for Women

Unknowing Carriers

You might think that STD testing isn’t needed because your sexual partner(s) will let you know if they have or have had an STD. But just because someone has an STD doesn’t mean that they know it — only STD testing will reveal the truth. Many STDs have few symptoms or symptoms that are easily confused with other infections, including:

  • GonorrheaGonorrhea symptoms include pain and burning in urination, yellow or bloody discharge, abdominal pain, or heavy menstrual flow. Without STD testing, symptoms of this STD are often confused with bladder infection.
  • Chlamydia: 3/4 of women who have chlamydia exhibit and experience no symptoms, which is why STD testing is vital. Those who do have symptoms may also confuse them with symptoms of a bladder infection — including abnormal discharge from the vaginal, a burning sensation during urination, and spotting between menstruation.
  • Herpes: Symptoms of this STD, including  sores or rashes on your vagina or back, vaginal discharge, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and pain while urinating, may come and go as the years pass. Still, even when you do not exhibit signs of herpes, the virus remains in your nerve cells and can ultimately increase your risk of contracting HIV — which shows why STD testing is so important.
  • HIV: Research has shown that 21% of people in the US who are infected with HIV haven’t undergone STD testing and are thus undiagnosed. HIV symptoms, such as extreme exhaustion, rapid weight loss, fevers, night swears, diarrhea, coughing, and yeast infections, may not appear for years. This means that HIV-positive people could be unknowingly spreading the disease to others.

With STD testing, you will know if you or your sexual partner(s) have contracted any diseases in the past, which will prevent you from further spreading the infection.

Affects of STDs

STD testing does more than prevent the spread of diseases — it can also help you get treatment more quickly, which can prevent your STD from resulting in a very serious health problem. From infertility to cervical cancer to death, there are many long-term medical affects of STDs that can be avoided with simple STD testing. These affects include:

  • Chlamydia: If chlamydia spreads to your uterus or fallopian tubes, it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This disease is not easily cured and can permanently damage your fallopian tubes and uterus, leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, or even fatal ectopic pregnancy. After a positive diagnosis through STD testing, you can treat your chlamydia and prevent these outcomes.
  • Herpes: If you give birth vaginally when you have unknowingly carried the herpes virus, your baby could suffer blindness. STD testing is key when it comes to identifying and treating herpes.
  • Genital HPV: Some strains of HPV are linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and anal cancer, all of which have the potential to be fatal. When you and your partner receive STD testing, you can seek treatment for HPV if necessary.
  • HIV: When you contract HIV, your immune system weakens and makes you prone to contracting infections. HIV can lead to AIDS, a severe and often fatal autoimmune disorder. STD testing will help diagnose your HIV — and though there is currently no known cure for the disease, you can seek treatment to slow its progression.

These are just a few of the conditions that can result from STDs — there are countless other affects that could be treated or avoided by STD testing.

Get STD Testing Today

Ready to take charge of your health? ARCpoint Labs offers comprehensive STD testing at many of its facilities nationwide. Click here to see if STD testing is available at the ARCpoint location near you.

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STD Detectives Take Charge to put end to Gonorrhea Outbreak

Gonorrhea is spreading in the northwest United States. Officials are going to great lengths to put an end to the outbreak, calling on STD detectives to scour for the cause and find more individuals with the infection.

Officials in Oregon, California and Washington are noticing a significant increase in the number of gonorrhea cases reported by hospitals and clinics. The cause has not been determined, but a number of factors are being explored.

What is an STD Detective?detective STD

You might be asking what exactly would be on the job description for an STD detective. An STD detective is not exactly a common role, but it is a real position.

The concept of an STD detective is not new. STD detectives, similar to disease intervention specialists, work to notify people that they may have STDs. In addition to educating the public about sexual health, they encourage people to get tested before disease spreads further.

What’s Causing the Gonorrhea Outbreak?

It’s unlikely that we’ll pinpoint one one cause of the growing number of cases of gonorrhea. Instead, state health officials use existing information to speculate and determine why an outbreak has begun.

Some believe that gonorrhea is being treated improperly or that new strains of the disease are resisting treatment. Others believe that the root cause is a behavior problem, saying that people have gotten complacent about condom usage and protection.

What to do About Gonorrhea

The gonorrhea outbreak in the Northwest is real. STD detectives are scouting out the sources, encouraging people to get tested and offering treatment. In other places across the country, where the numbers of cases aren’t skyrocketing, gonorrhea is still a common STD.

Learning the symptoms and complications is the first step toward preventing the spread of the disease. Since many men may not have symptoms, getting tested for gonorrhea is important.

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Grading Sexual Health at College: Top Ten Released

report card grades

The results are in.

Which U.S. college ranks number one in sexual health?

The 2013 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card revealed the schools that are doing the best with providing sexual health resources — and the schools that have room for improvement.

Princeton University takes the number one spot this year from the University of Illinois, who moved to number 6 this year.

How the Grades Were Calculated

The researchers gathered data from 140 university student health centers and investigated their services. Each school received a rating in 11 categories.

So, if we’re determining the best way for colleges to provide sexual health resources, what should we look at? Here are the 11 categories used in the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card:

  • Hours of operation
  • Allow drop-ins or require appointments for student scheduling
  • Quality of sexual health information and resources on website
  • Contraceptive availability — free or at cost
  • Condom availability — free or at cost
  • HIV testing on-site (On/off campus, cost)
  • STI testing on-site (On/off campus, cost)
  • Lecture/outreach programs and student peer groups for sexual health education
  • Sexual assault programs, resources or services
  • Overall website usability and quality
  • Extra credit

Sexual Health: At the Top and the Bottom

How did the group of national universities do in this slightly unusual competition?

Some colleges that win big on the field are at the top, while others got lower grades. The full sexual health grade report list can be found in the research, but we’ll give you the highlights.

Sexual Health Report Card: Top Five Colleges

1. Princeton University

2. Columbia University

3. University of Arizona

4. University of Iowa

5. Brown University

Sexual Health Report Card: Bottom Five Colleges

136. University of New Orleans

137. Troy State University

138. Providence College

139. Chicago State University

140. Brigham Young University

Why the Sexual Health Report Card Matters

This research is more than simply giving universities another title to boast about along with their national accreditation and honors.

We find this research so important because it points out the importance of sexual health, especially for college-aged adults.

This study looked at three main areas: sexual health education, sexual health testing and prevention education. We agree that those are important focus areas. You can find more resources about specific STDs on our blog, and as always, contact us if you need STD testing.

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U.S. Teens at Higher Risk Than Ever for Contracting Genital Herpes

According to research published in the online version of the Journal of Infectious Diseases in October, today’s U.S. teens are more vulnerable to genital herpes than they were in the past. This is likely a result of lower immune system antibodies that are supposed to shield them against the virus that causes genital herpes.

Why are teens at higher risk for genital herpes?

One of the possible causes of reduced level of these antibodies is that fewer teens get exposed to the herpes simplex virus type I (HSV-1) during childhood. This is a common cause of cold sores.

One decade ago, more teens would have been exposed to HSV-1 and developed some immunity to it. Now, it might be that fewer teens have built immunity — so they are more vulnerable to genital herpes when they become sexually active.

teens more at risk for genital herpes

Genital herpes strains

There are eight types of herpes, but the two that are connected to the disease transmission that we are concerned with are

HSV-1 is usually contracted in childhood. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected adult is the most common way for children to be infected. HSV-2, on the other hand, is usually transmitted via sexual contact. It seems that HSV-1 is now starting to cause genital herpes.HSV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2.) These two strains cause lifelong infections.

According to the research, HSV-1 is a cause of genital herpes in industrialized countries. The growing trend for young people to be involved in oral sex might be one cause of this shift.

Why are teens more susceptible to genital herpes now?

The recent research suggests that fewer teens have been exposed to HSV-1. That means that fewer U.S. teens have protective HSV-1 antibodies. So, their first sexual encounter leaves them more likely to be infected with genital herpes than teens in the recent past.

Are you worried that you or your teen might have genital herpes? There are affordable testing options that are reliable — find the ARCpoint Labs location near you and call to learn more about genital herpes testing services.

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How do I tell a past partner?

Sexually transmitted diseases affect the body, but living with STDs can be stressful on the emotions, too. The emotions are heightened when past partners may be infected, too. If you’re worried about how to share news with a past partner, you’re not alone. There aren’t any hard and fast rules to sharing this information with a partner or past partner, but there are a some ways to make the process less daunting.

After having a positive test result for an STD, you should focus on your health. You may have a number of recommended treatments. Your other responsibility is to share this information with past and present partners. Since the risk is high that those partners may too have infected an STD, you must share and encourage past partners to be tested.

Before you share the details

You should know and understand the details of your STD before you contact any past partner. When you know the basics, you’ll be more prepared to answer questions and explain the situation correctly.

Preparing for the interaction

You can’t predict the path of the conversation, but you can prepare yourself. Get ready for the discussion by deciding how and when to speak with your past partner. Some may feel more comfortable talking on the phone, while others would rather meet in person. Make sure you feel confident with the details and specifics about the disease before you meet. This will make it easier for you to confidently share information. Staying calm in this uncomfortable position might be difficult — try to ease your partner’s fears by relaxing and staying calm and collected.

couple conversation coffee shop

The discussion

When you have spoken about the issue, give some time for him or her to soak in the information. Let him or her react and ask questions. Talk about testing and treatment, and make sure your past partner knows you are concerned and sharing this information in the interest of health.

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