The growing threat of sexually transmitted infections in Wyoming

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The growing threat of sexually transmitted infections in Wyoming

September 7, 2022

The growing threat of sexually transmitted infections in Wyoming

With the growing threat of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) across the state, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is promoting prevention strategies and testing for residents.

Comparing 2021 reported cases to 2020, Wyoming saw a 23.6 percent increase in chlamydia cases, a 33.5 percent increase in gonorrhea cases, and a 35.5 percent increase in syphilis cases. In the year In 2022, statewide, an estimated 982 cases of chlamydia, 175 cases of gonorrhea and 35 cases of syphilis were reported.

The most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Wyoming is chlamydia. Of the 2021 chlamydia infections reported in Wyoming, 24 percent occurred in the 15-19 age group, 41 percent in the 20-24 age group, and 27 percent in the 25-34 age group.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said the increase is alarming. “If left untreated, these infections can cause prolonged uterine or abdominal pain, increased risk of HIV infection, infertility, pregnancy complications, stillbirth and infant mortality,” she said.

Harris said overall STD diagnoses decreased in 2020 and 2021 compared to previous years, resulting in more undiagnosed and untreated STDs in Wyoming.

Harris STD prevention strategies include:

  • Abstain from all forms of sexual intercourse
  • Getting tested before starting a new sexual relationship
  • Before having sex, ask potential sex partners that they have been tested since their last sex partner.
  • Choosing low sex types
  • Consistent and correct use of condoms with sexual intercourse
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners
  • Routine testing for STIs

Leslie Fowler, Communicable Disease Prevention Program at WDH, reminded residents of the importance of testing for STDs, HIV and viral hepatitis. “While STDs sometimes present as itching, burning, discharge or visible sores, many people have no symptoms,” she says. “Also, many people don’t know that these infections usually occur in the genital area, but they also don’t know that they can also occur in the throat and anus, so it’s important to ask your provider about an extra-genital or three-site test as they are all untreated. STDs can have serious health consequences.

“We always say, the only way to know your STI status is to get tested for sure,” Fowler said.

WDH offers detailed STD information, free condom resources, low- or no-cost testing, at-home testing options, and STD treatment. www.KnoWyo.org website.

Wyoming’s specific STI testing recommendations are risk-based and are available online at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/communicable-disease-unit/sexually-transmitted-disease/health-professional-resources/.

Risk factors for STDs, HIV and viral hepatitis:

  • Having unprotected sex (condom, dental dam, gloves)
  • Sex with multiple partners
  • Sexual abuse or a survivor of sexual abuse
  • Having sex while drunk or high
  • Use of medicine by nose or injection
  • Anonymous sex

Harris said prenatal care in Wyoming usually includes screening for sexually transmitted diseases. “For a healthy pregnancy and to help prevent syphilis in babies and children, frequent screening should be done during pregnancy when certain risk factors occur,” she said. These conditions include:

  • The patient or partner has other sexual partners
  • Using drugs by injection or in the nose
  • Non-professional or homemade tattoos or piercings

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