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ANN ARBOR, MI - Sexually-transmitted diseases are on the rise in Washtenaw County, a trend the county health department said mirrors state and national numbers.

In a statement released April 30, the Washtenaw County Health Department is asking residents to get tested and take steps to prevent infections.

The county health department recorded 560 cases of gonorrhea in 2017, the highest number in 25 years, and has also seen rising rates of chlamydia and syphilis with more than 1,700 cases of the diseases reported in 2017.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexually-transmitted diseases or STDs are "very common," with about 20 million new infections reported each year in the United States. About half of those infections affect people aged 15 to 24.

Some STDs do not always present symptoms and testing is important, the CDC website said, so a diagnosis can immediately be followed by treatment, as some STDs can be cured entirely.

"While gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are preventable and treatable, they can cause serious health problems if left ignored," the county health department statement said. "Understanding risk, abstaining from sex, reducing your number of sexual partners and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies."

STD and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) testing providers include the Washtenaw County Health Department, Planned Parenthood, Unified and the Corner Health Center, with primary health care providers and women's health care providers also able to offer testing and treatment.

Services available to county residents include vaccinations for STDs, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus virus (HPV) along with free condoms and treatment resources.

"If you're sexually active, it is essential to get tested and get immediate treatment when necessary," said Heather Vaquera, prevention specialist at the Washtenaw County Health Department, in the statement. "If your health care provider doesn't bring up testing, be sure to ask about it."

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