STD Testing Negatively Impacted by COVID-19

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April is STD awareness month. According to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at an all-time high. In 2019, there were more than 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, the most commonly reported STDs in the U.S. This represents a 30% increase from just a few years prior.

Even with record numbers of STDs, testing for sexually transmitted diseases actually plummeted in 2020. Resources for these types of screenings were sidetracked because of COVID-19 testing efforts, and lab technicians who previously helped track STD infections were reassigned to focus on COVID-19. Additionally, many labs that process STD tests across the U.S. were forced to ration supplies and focus on the flood of incoming COVID-19 samples, resulting in a significant testing gap.

“If left untreated, STDs can lead to a whole host of problems including pain, fertility difficulties and future health issues including pelvic inflammatory disease and cancer,” said Dr. Burt Webb, a Scottsdale-based gynecologist specializing in women’s health and intimate wellness. “Although getting tested for an STD can feel embarrassing, board-certified gynecologists are professionals who are there to help, not judge and if left undiagnosed, the long-term impact of an STD can be detrimental to your health and the health of your partner.”

Common STD symptoms can range from vague and nonspecific to pain, pressure, discharge, and fever.

“During this past year, COVID-19 has greatly impacted most people’s access to sexual health services,” added Dr. Webb. “April is STD Awareness Month and the perfect opportunity to prioritize your sexual health.”

Doctors typically screen for STDs as part of annual routine care for sexually active adults and teenagers. While STD screening may be scary, for most STDs testing is simple and can be obtained from a pap smear exam, blood work and/or a urine sample.

According to Dr. Webb, one of the more common STDs is the human papillomavirus infection also known as HPV. This can cause abnormal pap smears, which is why an annual exam with a board-certified gynecologist is essential. “Family practice doctors and nurse practitioners do not have as much training in diagnosing and treating STDs. If not handled swift and efficiently by an expert, untreated STDs could lead to cancer, pregnancy loss, infertility and years of irregular pap smears and stress,” he said.

For more information about STD testing, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Webb, contact him at Vitality MDs, 8415 N. Pima Rd., Suite 210, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 (480) 210-9611 or Inside Out Aesthetics, 10900 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite 608, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 at (480) 307-9901. –

Burt Webb, M.D. graduated from Stanford University and Tulane Medical School. Dr. Webb did his residency at Good Samaritan Medical Center and is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Webb offers comprehensive women’s health care services, including wellness exams, preventive medicine, intimate health, hormone therapy, incontinence and treatments for gynecological conditions.

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