Preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections in young adults – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2021-06-16 09:00:18 –

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) reached record highs in 2018 for both women and men, and for all racial and ethnic groups (data on non-binary people). Was not available). With the announcement of the first STI National Strategic Plan in late 2020, the United States has begun its path to prevent the spread of STI and effectively treat it.

STI is a serious public health concern. If left untreated, STI can spread to more people and can lead to increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, poor birth outcomes, HIV and certain cancers. People with sexually transmitted diseases can experience prejudice and discrimination, which can reduce their quality of life.

The number of STIs diagnosed has increased rapidly in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the total number of cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia exceeded 2.4 million in 2018, with half of these sexually transmitted diseases being adolescents. Adolescents and young adults, men and pregnant women who have sex with men are imbalanced by STI. Blacks, Native Americans / Alaska Natives, and Hispanic / Latin communities are also burdened with sexually transmitted diseases.


Ashley Hill, DrPH, and MPH, assistant professors of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, are studying the determinants of sexually transmitted diseases in people aged 15 to 24 and how to best support this population.

“I’m focusing on this population because they have a heavy burden on STI in the United States and Allegheny County,” says Dr. Hill. “In a country or region, that age group accounts for about 50% of all sexually transmitted diseases each year. All sexually transmitted diseases are preventable, most treatable and can be detected early. I will. “

Dr. Hill investigates the causes of high risk of sexually transmitted infections in young people, and there are various factors that influence their ability to make sexual and reproductive health and safe decisions and adopt healthy practices. I found. Some of these factors include inaccessibility to confidential screening for health care, insurance, condoms, or sexually transmitted diseases. Structural racial discrimination in the past and present medical environment and its impact on medical use and access are also factors. Unequal power dynamics and intimate violence can deprive people of their autonomy in making decisions about physical, sexual health, and reproductive choices. Also, across the United States, Dr. Hill said that some people experience shame and have difficulty discussing healthy sexuality and relationships, which may reduce their chances of making informed decisions. I’m pointing out.

“We need to push more information to young people,” says Dr. Hill. “We need to use information that is correct, culturally relevant and meaningful to the age group, and healthy sexuality at an earlier age in the greater context of overall health and well-being. And topics such as relationships need to be introduced. “

An important part of providing young people with more information about STI, sexual health and reproduction is asking them how they want to be assisted.
“We need to move towards integrating the needs, needs and needs of young people into the programs we drive,” she says. “We know what works for them, what their concerns are, what adults can do to support them in their lives, and how to help them be heard. We want to help provide practical changes that improve their lives. “

Currently, Dr. Hill and colleagues are also investigating the effects of sexual violence on sexually transmitted diseases through a study of the experience of sexual misconduct in black women at the University of Pittsburgh. They are trying to understand the barriers to reporting such incidents and how Pitt best supports those who have had these experiences. A study — Black Women in Academia (BWA): Healing and Empowerment Support — impacts STI because if someone experiences sexual misconduct or violence, that person may be at risk for STI. Give.

More research is needed, but Dr. Hill says the spread of STI continues through the COVID-19 pandemic. There is concern that more undiagnosed and untreated sexually transmitted diseases will increase as many people fail to keep their regular sexually transmitted disease appointments and receive regular tests. During the pandemic, most young people are absent from school for months, losing contact with them, whether at school or with other social support services. Dr. Hill says the health care provider’s office has begun practicing COVID-19 prevention, encouraging people to maintain health and wellness appointments.

Dr. Hill said the broader goal is to introduce mechanisms that help people of reproductive age build healthy relationships and engage in sex in a way that makes sense to them, but infectious diseases, illnesses, or Overall happiness.

The Allegheny County Health Department provides confidential screening services and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases at the clinic. For more information, please visit https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Health-Services/STD-and-HIV-AIDS-Program/index.aspx.

For more information on the BWA survey, please email bwa @ pitt.edu.

Chart courtesy of the Allegheny County Health Department Public Health Clinic.

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