STD cases spiked during COVID-19 pandemic, health officials say

Focused On Health

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The coronavirus pandemic has taken center stage at public health departments across the United States. People are forgoing their usual visits as a result of the pandemic, according to health officials. There’s also been an influx of positive STD cases since March 2020, right when the pandemic started.

Yolanda Johnson is a certified medical assistant. Recently, she said she’s had to make more calls to people to let them know that they tested positive for an STD.

“You know everyone wants to be in house and want cuddling and things of that nature. I don’t know if people are stressed out, or it’s that they feel the need to love more,” she stated.

Dr. Timothy Quinn, of Quinn Healthcare in Ridgeland, said some of the contributing factors are the limited activities people have in front of them.

“A lot of my young patients, they’re telling me that there’s not a lot of other things to do like going to the movies or going to the fair,” he said.

Health officials said fear of contracting the coronavirus during a checkup also has some people foregoing regular STD screenings. Many infections can be symptom free and undetectable without a test.

“Lower back pain, lower abdominal pain. People notice they may have to go the bathroom more often,” explained Johnson.

Most STD cases are seen in the younger population between the ages of 15 and 24, but the impacts of positive STD cases are being felt in both younger individuals and adults these days.

“According to the statistics that we have at Open Arms Healthcare, an increase in sexual activity and condoms are not being used,” said Deja Abdul-Haqq, director of organizational development at Open Arms Healthcare Center.

Public health officials at the center said they’ve seen a 17% increase in the HIV positivity rate, 30-45% in gonorrhea and a surge in herpes cases since March.

My Brother’s Keeper, a nonprofit organization, offers a daily pill that can help prevent HIV. It’s said to reduce the probability of exposure to HIV by 99%. The pill is available at no cost out of pocket at Open Arms Healthcare Center in Jackson.

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