NRV Health District brings free STI testing and treatment to the people

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) The number of STI's continues to rise around the country, including our hometowns. One in two sexually active young adults will receive a sexually transmitted disease within their lifetime.

Dr. Noelle Bissell with the New River Valley Health District says there are several factors to the increase. Other methods of contraception like birth control have improved so the use of condoms has decreased. She says condoms and abstinence are the only ways to protect against STI's. Social media and dating websites also make it easier for people to meet multiple sexual partners.

The organization want to help more people get screened and treated by bringing the clinic to the community. The NRV's new mobile health unit will be able to get blood and urine samples from adults who might not even know they're infected.

"A lot of people think they're going to have symptoms if they have a sexually transmitted infection and that's actually the opposite," Bissell said. "Most people don't have any symptoms. If they don't know they have the infection they can transmit it to others and they can harbor it for a long time which leads to chronic medical problems."

Those problems include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichmonia, and syphilis. She added that congenital syphilis, which is when a pregnant woman has syphilis and passes it on to her unborn baby, has also doubled in the last four years.

She said that the NRV Health District's message is to take ownership of your health and know that the public heath organization offers free testing and treatment to anyone that needs help. She said that knowing one's sexual status is a vital part in stopping the spread of STI's.