• 45°

Health experts urge STD testing; free clinic to be held Tuesday at college

Local health officials are calling for sexually active young people to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, also referred to as STIs or STDs, during STI Testing Day in Minnesota on Tuesday. 

STI Testing Day in Minnesota is a way to heighten the awareness about the epidemic levels of STIs and to encourage STI testing.

The Family Planning Community Clinic will host a free STI testing day at two locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 25 at Riverland Community College both in Austin and Albert Lea.   

Go to the Student Service Center at the Albert Lea campus or the East Building at the Austin campus. Attendees will be able to speak with a nurse, get tested and leave with some safe sex supplies.  All ages are welcome.

“Since most STIs don’t show symptoms, it’s important for sexually active persons to get tested each year or when involved with a new partner,” said Karissa Studier, a public health nurse with Mower County Health and Human Services. “Testing, diagnosing and treating these diseases in their early stages will prevent long-term health consequences and prevent their spread.”

The CDC reports, “STIs are a substantial health challenge facing the United States. CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in this country, half among young people aged 15–24.” 

STIs pose a serious public health threat and can lead to serious health consequences. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility in women and men and can be passed from an infected woman to her newborn child, causing premature delivery, infant pneumonia and blindness. Untreated gonorrhea can spread to organs and joints leading to life-threatening conditions.

STIs can be prevented by abstaining from sexual contact, limiting the number of sexual partners, always using condoms during sex, and by not sharing needles for drug use, piercing or tattooing. Partners of STI infected patients also need to get tested and treated to prevent re-infection or spread to others.

For confidential information about the prevention and treatment of STIs and testing locations, call the Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline at 800-78-FACTS, 651-645-9360, Text ASKMN to 66746, or visit their website at http://sexualhealthmn.org/.