In an effort to curb STD and HIV rates in the country, the CDC and the American Social Health Association have declared April as National STD Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the dangers associated with STDs and their prevalence in some areas.
Sexually transmitted diseases are an issue throughout the United States and Chicago is no exception. In 2009, Illinois was the 10th leading state for primary and secondary syphilis, and the sixth for gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people. Chicago also has the fourth largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS, with 28,000 people estimated through 2003.
One of the largest problems, health officials say, is keeping people informed and convincing people to get tested. The stigmas associated with STDs seem to keep people from talking to their partner(s) prior to becoming intimate, and many people are skeptical of testing facilities. Many STDs can have few to no symptoms or are often times so mild they are mistaken as some other lesser infection such as the flu or a rash. HIV can be asymptomatic for long periods of time while still being transmittable making it very easily spread.
Other STDs are under-reported across the U.S. and can sometimes be dangerous. HPV is one of these. An often unnoticed STD, it is the leading cause of cervical cancer as well as other cancers.
Many of these infections can be preemptively dealt with by talking to your partner before hand and getting tested regularly which is what this observance is all about.
A full list of free and low income clinics in Illinois can be found here.
For everyone living in Chicago, here’s a partial list of free places for HIV testing by the Chicago Department of Public Health:
641 W. 63rd St.
Chicago, IL 60621
Roseland Neighborhood Health Center
200 E. 115th St.
Chicago, IL 60628
2861 N. Clark
Chicago, IL 60657
845 W. Wilson
Chicago, IL 60640