STD testing is just one of the many health care processes that have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and health departments across the nation have expressed their concern. In May 2020, the World Health Organization stated that the cost of inaction owing to COVID-19 could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. Advancements made in mother to child transmission of HIV, for instance, could experience a significant setback, and the rate of new infections in children could shoot up by as much as 104%.
Why Is Testing Being Interrupted?
Both the WHO and UNAIDS have stated that if efforts are not made to overcome interruptions in testing during the pandemic, a six-month disruption in antiretroviral therapy could result in an extra half a million deaths in some of the worst-hit areas of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa. The pandemic is affecting STD testing in other parts of the word as well, including the U.S. Recently, HIV prevention health program specialists from Idaho reported that they were screening far fewer people than they did the same time last year. Many community organizations that conduct testing were closed as of March 25. Representatives of a Portland STD testing firm, meanwhile, stress the importance of testing for all common STDs – including chlamydia and gonorrhea – every year. Those who were slotted for March, April or May testing may potentially delay testing for several months.
Why Is STD Testing So Important?
As mentioned, STD testing for AIDs can save lives and foster the adoption of vital treatments for HIV. However, testing as a whole is key at a time during which the rates of STD infections have been rising steadily. In the year 2018, the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reached record highs. “When the dust settles on coronavirus, we’re going to find out about all the public health issues that we haven’t been able to pay attention to,” said A. Casalotti of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Who Is Testing?
It is impossible to provide a definite list of testing centers, because some STD and HIV programs are limiting hours yet still providing testing and treatment. One result is that many people are missing out on crucial pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication, which helps prevent HIV. People who have previously visited clinics and inquired about PrEP may potentially be exposed to the HIV virus before they have a chance to avail of these services. If you need testing, know that many centers are adapting patient care during COVID-19. For instance, some are opting for oral medications instead of injections to reduce physical contact between patients and doctors. On the whole, expect interruptions to service to continue, because many medical professionals once specialising in STDs and/or HIV are now on the frontline fighting the pandemic. Greater effort should also be taken to practise safe sex, to reduce the risk of contagion.
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a major stressor for healthcare workers across the globe. Health departments across the U.S, as well as international organizations such as the WHO, have warned that STDs and deaths can rise as a result of interruptions in treatment. Those with centers nearby who can treat them should know that protocol has been changed to accommodate the current needs of the epidemic. Meanwhile, every effort should be taken to reduce the individual risk of STDs.