Call to action following STD surge

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Cases in NEPA underscore state problem

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Some diseases, which were considered a major problem a century ago, are making a comeback. They are sexually transmitted diseases commonly referred to as STDs.

STDs spiked during World War II. Now, Pennsylvania Department of Health reports a significant increase of sexually transmitted diseases. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, what’s happening locally underscores a need for greater testing.

“We have seen a surge in syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia on a local, state level and nationally,” Dr. Erin McFadden said.

And those numbers are not going down according to Erin McFadden, MD with The Wright Center for Community Health in Scranton. In the first six weeks of the new year, the facility has tested 31 patients for STDs.

“Having sex with multiple partners, not using proper protection will definitely contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

Dr. McFadden said the largest number of sexually transmitted infections are occurring in the 14 to 24-year-old age group. It’s a wake-up call for young people to be aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs.

One of the biggest STD risks is to the smallest and most vulnerable among us. Dr. McFadden said, “If a pregnant mother gives birth to a child while she has an active syphilis infection, it can lead to death.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health reports in 2018, seven babies were born with syphilis which marked the highest number in more than 25 years.

The Wright Center for Community Health in Scranton is among the sites which provide free and confidential STD testing and treatment. It’s seen as a way to prevent future infections, but Dr. McFadden says it’s not the only way.

“Abstinence is best. Monogamy is second best. Thereafter you better use barrier protection,” she said.

Dr. McFadden says that barrier protection is a latex male condom or a female condom. As for testing and treatment, you can do that through your own primary care physician or you can check out a statewide listing of STD clinics by county for confidential and free testing.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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