While health departments around the nation were battling COVID-19 last year, sexually transmitted disease cases increased in the U.S and in Charlotte. There were 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the U.S. in 2021, up from 2.4 million reported in 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV cases also rose by 16%, according to data from the National Coalition of STD Directors. In Mecklenburg County, the number of syphilis and HIV cases also spiked, according to state data.

There were 717 syphilis cases reported in Mecklenburg County in 2021, up from 567 in 2020, according to quarterly STD surveillance reports from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s around a 20% increase.

Here are some other key data for Mecklenburg County:

  • There were 9,695 chlamydia cases reported in 2021, a 2.7% increase from the number of cases reported in 2020.
  • The number of gonorrhea cases reported in 2021 dropped, from 4,335 in 2020 to 4,185.
  • There were 281 HIV cases reported in 2021, a 34% increase from the number of cases reported in 2021.

How to protect against infections

Here are some ways you can protect yourself from STDs, according to the CDC:

  • Use condoms.
  • Get vaccinated. The most common STD — human papillomavirus (HPV) — can be prevented by a vaccine.
  • Get tested. Many STDs don’t have symptoms but can still cause health problems.
  • Practice abstinence.

Where to get tested in Charlotte

The Mecklenburg County Health Department recommends that individuals get tested for HIV and STDs every three to six months if they:

  • Have multiple or anonymous sex partners
  • Share injection drug needles or equipment
  • Are men who have sex with men or transgender individuals

Appointments for free HIV and STD testing are available at two Mecklenburg County Health Department locations, 2845 Beatties Ford Rd. and 249 Billingsley Rd. You can call 704-432-8378 to schedule an appointment.

STD testing is also available at Planned Parenthood, CVS or through primary care providers.

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer.

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