XYZ Awareness Month.
No, that’s not actually very new, is it? Every month seems to be Awareness Month for dozens of causes. And virtually every day has a focus now too. Consider some of these that have passed in the last few weeks: International Children’s Book Day, World Health Day, Take a Walk in the Park Day, and my personal favorites, Bunsen Burner Day and Weed Appreciation Day. (Who appreciates weeds? Even in the Bible, they are not mentioned favorably, and I certainly don’t appreciate them in my garden.)
That being said, April holds a designation that hits right in the cross-hairs of what we do, day in and day out. April is STD Awareness month.
Several times a week, we see women who come to us seeking testing for sexually transmitted diseases/ infections. And that number is increasing dramatically. In the first three months of 2017, we saw four times as many women for sexually transmitted infections testing as we did during the same time period last year.
Why do we provide free testing and treatment for STIs to women in our community?
We provide this service free of charge and confidentially for several reasons.
First, there is a great need. STDs are a significant and growing public health issue. According to the latest annual surveillance report from the CDC, the total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in 2015 reached the highest number ever.
Even more recently, the CDC released a statement regarding the rise of syphilis in the United States as part of STD Awareness month. They report, “At one point syphilis was almost eliminated, but that is not the case anymore. This persistent sexually transmitted disease (STD) is now on the rise again and it has reached a critical high: the current number and rate of cases is higher than it’s been in more than 20 years.”
Clearly, current prevention efforts are not sufficient. We want to be part of the solution.
Second, we care about women. We desire to see each woman who comes in our clinic become physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually healthy. Providing this testing affords an opportunity for us to care about her whole person. We can help her to envision having a healthy relationship. A relationship that is free of the fear of disease and unintended pregnancy.
Finally, providing medical care for a young woman when she is not in the throes of decision making regarding an unintended pregnancy gives us an opportunity for her to get to know and trust us when her world isn’t spinning out of control. Our idealistic hope is that she will be saved from ever needing to make a difficult decision about an unintended pregnancy.
But if she does find herself pregnant in the future, she already knows there is a safe and caring place to seek help in Care Net’s First Care Clinic.
So this month, let’s join together in promoting awareness and reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. And while you’re at it, consider also making April (and May) #FirstCareClinicAwarenessMonth in your circles.