A motto that legendary rapper, Lil Wayne, has rapped since 2008 is still relevant: “Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex ‘cause you don’t want that late text, that ‘I think I’m late’ text.” Not only does safe sex lower the possibilities of any unexpected pregnancies, but it also lowers the potential outcome of any STD’s.
April is STD Awareness Month and residents residing in Cook County are being given essential kits to test for STD’s. The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is currently offering free at-home STD test kits to test for the two most common sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia and gonorrhea). The Don’t Guess Get a Test campaign aims to remind suburban residents – especially 18-24 – about the importance of getting tested and protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
The name of the campaign, Don’t Guess Get a Test, is so incredibly pivotal due to the massive amount of people in the U.S. who don’t get regularly tested for STD’s and just assume they’re healthy. “Many people don’t realize just how common chlamydia and gonorrhea are, AND that they can be infected with and spread these STDs to partners without even knowing it,” said CCDPH Chief Operating Officer, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Oftentimes, people have no symptoms. And what’s worse is, if left untreated, these infections can cause serious health problems – including infertility – in men and women, and increase your risk for other STDs.”
There are 26 million new STD cases in the U.S. per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five Americans are estimated to have an STD. In the past 10 years, chlamydia cases have increased nationally by 16% and gonorrhea cases have almost doubled. Half of all new infections in suburban Cook County are in people ages 18 to 24 years old. If you are someone that has had a one night fling or anything else you’ve done sexually and you may not feel right about, it’s important to find out the status of that individual you were sexually engaged with and know your status.
If any resident wants to order a free home test kit or find an in-person testing site near them, chlamydia and gonorrhea home test kits are available to suburban Cook County residents ages 18 and older by visiting dontguessgetatest.com. You can also mail order or visit Prairie State College, 202 S. Halsted St. (Meeting Room 1315) in Chicago Heights. The facility is open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., from now through November 2023.
By Kori Barnes, University of Southern California
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