Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Service offered free STD testing Valentine’s Day to ensure residents enjoyed a disease-free holiday with its “Give Your Valentine Anything But Love” event.
This is the second time the department hosted the event, which also offered same-day testing for HIV, hepatitis C and other STDs. According to the Nashua government website, the testing set the stage for a more romantic Valentine’s Day that includes more than chocolates and flowers with education, communication and testing. It said it was probably the best gift anybody could get for Valentine’s Day.
Organizers were hoping the event would alleviate the stigma that surrounds sexually transmitted disease and encourage people to talk about STDs. The event also included snacks, gift cards for early participants and giveaway.
Program assistant Jessica Ayala said the clinic was decorated to help people feel at ease about being tested for STDs. She said the idea behind the program was to open up dialogue between couples and to prevent the spread of STDs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in August 2018 that STDs were increasing dramatically across the U.S. with 2.3 million new cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea for the 2017 year. That’s 200,000 more cases than 2016.
CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention Director Jonathan Mermin said the country was sliding backward in its fight against sexually transmitted diseases. He said the systems currently in place are unable to handle the rising number of cases – systems that would identify, test and treat the preventable STDs.
According to data, there was a 67 percent rise in gonorrhea cases. This is worrying to officials with the threat of untreatable gonorrhea strains. Despite the rise in both primary and secondary syphilis, chlamydia still remains the most commonly reported STD infection with most of the new cases being diagnosed in 15-to-24-year-old females.
The event took place at the Community Health Clinic on Feb. 14, but no word on just how many people participated in it.