April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, and Alachua County is making its annual efforts to educate the community.
Prevention methods include open conversations with sexual partners and health providers about all possible risks, said Roger Dolz, the program administrator at the Alachua County Health Department.
“The best ways to prevent STDs are abstinence; making sure that you get tested; making sure you have protected sex and use condoms properly,” he said. “And if you choose not to (wear condoms), then make sure you’re in a monogamous relationship.”
Abstinence, Dolz said, is the only 100-percent-effective way to prevent an STD.
A slight increase of STD cases in Alachua County may be the result of increased testing in the community, Dolz said.
He said the health department partnered with UF’s Mobile Outreach Clinic to offer STD and STI screenings to the community.
Once a patient comes in for an STD screening at any of the department’s Gainesville locations, they are also provided with counseling and education on the topic, he said.
“We spread awareness through all of our efforts,” Dolz said. “It’s not just screening.”
Mark Tracz, an employee at GatorWell, said STD Awareness Month is about teaching residents what STDs are and how they are spread.
Educating people about available resources is equally important, said Tracz, a UF family, youth and community sciences senior.
Tracz said he also hopes people realize STDs can be contracted without having sex, such as making contact with an open wound.
“You have to be cautious about what your body is doing and also where it is,” he said.