LANSING, Mich. – Several communities in Ingham County have high infection rates for gonorrhea and chlamydia, two common, but treatable sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A new campaign from the health department is reaching out to those most affected, youth ages 15-24 and minorities, to reduce the spread.
The campaign, “Choices, Not Chances,” launched last fall but recently expanded to coincide with Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month. The campaign shares sexual health messages and freely distributes condoms and health information at community locations and through the mail.
“We sought input from young people in crafting this campaign, and they told us that cost and access to condoms are barriers to condom usage,” said Linda S. Vail, Ingham County Health Officer. “For those who are sexually active, condom use is the best way to prevent STIs. We want youth and all county residents to know that condoms are effective and available, at no cost, should they need them.”
The availability of condoms at community locations is a new aspect of the campaign. Currently, there are five community locations where health kits containing condoms may be picked up including the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC).
“The health of our neighbors is a priority for ANC, so we were eager to partner with ICHD on this initiative,” said Joan Nelson, Executive Director of ANC.
Frequently, STIs may have no symptoms but can still cause long-term damage to the body. Testing is the only way to know whether or not someone has a STI. The health department is open for testing, Monday-Friday, by appointment at (517) 887-4424.
“I encourage everyone who thinks they may have been exposed to a STI to get tested,” said Vail. “We serve and treat all county residents at the health department. Cost and confidentiality should never be barriers.”
For more information about the campaign or to request condoms, visit hd.ingham.org.