Talk. Test. Treat. to protect your health

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest reports show that one in five people in the United States have an STI, with almost half of new STIs being diagnosed among youth aged 15-24.

Especially concerning is the sharp increase in syphilis – which has reached the highest numbers since the 1950s – and has led to an increase in congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the infection. The disease can result in miscarriage, stillbirths, infant deaths, and lifelong medical issues.

The good news is that STIs, including syphilis, can be cured and all are treatable. If you are sexually active it is important to follow the CDC guidance of “Talk. Test. Treat.” to protect your health.

  • Talk openly and honestly with your partner(s) and your healthcare provider about your sexual health. A healthcare provider will help you understand your risk for STIs and how often you should be screened.
  • Get tested. Many STIs don’t cause symptoms so getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an STI. Even if you’re pregnant, you can still get an STI and should be tested during prenatal care. Without regular testing, you may transmit infection to your partners and expose yourself to long term health problems including pelvic or abdominal pain, pregnancy complications, inability to get pregnant and increased risk of getting HIV.  
  • If you test positive for an STI, work with your healthcare provider to get the correct treatment. Take all the medication your healthcare provider prescribes and avoid having sex again until you and your partner(s) have completed treatment.

Conversations about sexual health can be difficult at any age, but especially for teenagers. Some teens can candidly discuss issues such as birth control with their parents. Others may not feel comfortable or do not have a trusted adult to turn to with questions. Some parents may feel uncomfortable or simply do not have the answers. Northwest Colorado Health provides confidential family planning services in Craig and Steamboat Springs to provide a safe place for patients of all ages to get accurate information, take ownership of their bodies and protect themselves.

Family planning programs help ensure teens and women and men with low incomes have access to birth control, affordable STI screenings and medications to treat STIs. Services also include cervical cancer prevention, including Pap tests, screening, and immunization for HPV (the virus that can cause cervical cancer), access to medication that helps lower risk of getting HIV (PrEP) and medicine to prevent HIV after possible exposure (PEP), pregnancy tests and low- or no-cost long-acting reversible contraception (LARCS).

Family planning services are confidential. Ideally, parents play a role in their teen’s sexual health education; however, teens have the option of making an appointment and consenting to their own care. Telehealth visits are available for items that do not require in-person care, such as birth control consults and refills.

If you are sexually active, or are thinking of becoming sexually active, it’s important to educate and protect yourself. Taking the simple steps of “Talk. Test. Treat.” can have a big impact on sexual health, and overall well-being. A family planning visit is an opportunity to check in with a healthcare provider to discuss safe behaviors and healthy habits, as well as get up to date on immunizations and screenings.

To make an appointment for a family planning visit at Northwest Colorado Health, call 970-824-8233 in Craig or 970-879-1632 in Steamboat Springs. Learn more at

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