April is Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month, with Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Week running from April 10 through April 16.
Anyone who is sexually active can contract an STI, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity or age, according to Medical News Today.
About one in four college students have an STI, according to Hartford HealthCare.
Among large U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the fourth highest STD transmission rate, with 2,827 per 100,000 people, according to a report from Innerbody Research. Only Jackson, Mississippi, Baltimore, Maryland and San Francisco, California, rank higher.
Here are a few local resources offering STI testing and educational and health care programming to raise awareness about STIs.
Temple University’s Wellness Resource Center offers education about STI and STD prevention and provides free condoms to students at their events.
Students can visit the center’s office in Room 201 of the Howard Gittis Student Center to recieve safe sex supplies, including internal condoms, external condoms and dental dams. Students can receive up to two safe sex packs per month using their OWLcard. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Wellness Resource Center also hosted TU Test Fest at the Bell Tower on April 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., where representatives answered questions and distributed safe sex resources.
Student Health Services also offers primarily low cost STI and STD testing for students.
“Practicing safe sex is something that everyone should be doing,” said Mark Denys, senior director of Health Services.
The City of Philadelphia Health Centers
The City of Philadelphia offers free, confidential STI and STD testing at the Health Center 1 clinic located at 1930 Broad Street. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., with additional evening hours on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The site accepts walk-in appointments and requires visitors to bring an ID, but does not need proof of insurance.
For symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, the centers test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV, and symptomatic herpes. They also test for and treat STI-related ailments, including scabies, lice and yeast.
Health center 1 offers free male and female condoms, and pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis, a treatment that can be taken before or after exposure to HIV. People can also order female and male condoms online through Take Control Philly, and Do You, Philly, city organizations that provide health education and condoms for adolescents.
“I’d like to debunk that it’s difficult to get treated,” Asbel said. “There are places where it’s easy to get treated for free. It’s easy, but it’s also important to get treated because they’re markers for things that are not as easy to cure.”
Call 215-685-6575 for information about the city’s walk in STD testing and treatment.
The Mazzoni Center
The Mazzoni Center, located on 1348 Bainbridge Street in Center City, offers health and wellness services for individuals in the LGBTQ community, including gender-affirming care, LGBTQ support groups, health care, therapy and STI and STD testing and prevention.
The center accepts most insurance plans and also offers low-cost co-pays for patients without insurance.
Bebashi, located at 1235 Spring Garden Street, is an organization that provides health care, HIV/AIDS services, education, and social services to people of color, social services and health education.
Bebashi also offers a series of programs, like the HYPE Program that provides HIV prevention education and the Keep it Up Program which teaches safe sex education to young men.
“The message has been for many years to refrain from sex,” said Keisha Gabbidon-Howell, supervisor of prevention and education and coordinator of Bebashi’s TransNecessities Closet. “My message is to be safe about whatever behaviors you’re engaging in. Stay safe and stay educated so you can make informed decisions.”
Local Rite Aids
People can purchase take-home STI tests and HIV tests at local Rite Aid pharmacies, like the store located on Broad Street near Susquehanna.
“If you ever doubt that you may have been in contact with someone who has an infection, you should get tested,” said Lily Ye, a Rite Aid pharmacist.