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Awareness of STIs key to prevention

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- According to the Center for Disease Control, it’s estimated that there are approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections each year. Members of the armed services are not immune to these infections. Awareness is the key to preventing the spread of STIs. For more information, contact your local public health flight. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Airman 1st Class Joshua Green)(RELEASED)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- According to the Center for Disease Control, it’s estimated that there are approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections each year. Members of the armed services are not immune to these infections. Awareness is the key to preventing the spread of STIs. For more information, contact your local public health flight. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Airman 1st Class Joshua Green)(RELEASED)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections, also known as sexually transmitted diseases each year.

Service members aren't immune to the STIs, so awareness on how the infections are spread is key to preventing it being spread.

One of the most common infections in the surrounding areas of Moody is chlamydia. According to the CDC in 2009 per 100,000 people more than 3,000 people were infected. This number has fluctuated over the past ten years but has shown a slow decrease with awareness of the disease slowly rising

"A lot of people are unaware of the infections that are out there and how to protect themselves against them," said Summer Larkins, 23rd Medical Group public health. "Sexual education is not always taught to adults when they are younger so later in life they don't have the knowledge on how to identify the signs if they are infected."

Each year, STIs cause at least 24,000 women in the U.S. to become infertile. Leaving these diseases untreated can cause problems for both men and women. For members in the military, it can have an even bigger effect.

"When a military member becomes infected they can become nondeployable until they are cured," said Senior Airman Andrea Treadwell, 23rd MDG public health journeyman. "Unfortunately some STIs are only treatable, not curable. This can take away from them doing their job and completing their mission."

Chlamydia is an STI that is curable with one to two weeks of treatment, but that doesn't mean it can be overlooked. Chlamydia can go without presenting any symptoms for a long period of time, which means someone could spread the infection without any knowledge of it.

In 2009, a total of 1,244,180 cases of sexually-transmitted chlamydia were reported to the CDC.

If left untreated chlamydial can progress to cause serious reproductive and other health problems with both short term and long term consequences. The damage that chlamydia causes is often silent like the disease itself.

To protect against infections, practice abstinence, know each partner's history, avoid one-night stands and use condoms during all sexual contacts.

For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/std/ about STIs and the effect and symptoms that accompany them, or contact Public Health at 229-257-4540.