US cities are offering free STD tests for Valentine’s Day to ensure that the only thing couples are sharing is love.
Cities in Alaska, New Hampshire and South Carolina will be offering free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and hepatitis C up to Thursday.
Organizers say they’re hoping the events can break the stigma surrounding STDs and start open conversations about prevention efforts.
It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an increase in chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis across the country for the fourth year in a row.
Cities in Alaska, New Hampshire and South Carolina will be offering free testing for STDs, HIV and hepatitis C in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day (file image)
The town of Nashua, New Hampshire, is hosting its free testing on Valentine’s Day for the second year in a row.
‘Setting the stage for a romantic Valentine’s Day requires more than flowers or chocolates – a sexually healthy celebration of love requires education, testing and communication,’ reads a post on the Nashua government website.
‘Perhaps the best gift for this February 14th is getting tested for STDs, HIV and Hepatitis C.’
Event organizers say they want to remove the stigma surrounding STDs, and promote awareness.
‘We’re going to have our clinic decorated so people feel welcome,’ program assistant Jessica Ayla told the Nashua Telegraph.
‘It’s really just to make people comfortable and open to talk about the prevention piece and just being aware of it.’
Division director Bobbie Bagley told the newspaper that what makes the event so different is that it allows a dialogue between staff and patients about prevention efforts.
‘This allows for us to do this in a way so that it becomes part of our common language, to be very mindful of prevention and that STD, HIV and hepatitis C – it’s out there, but we can prevent it through testing,’ she said.
Meanwhile, in Anchorage, Alaska, the local health department partnered with the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association and Identity Inc to provide free testing on February 9.
‘Show your love, know your status,’ a tagline for the event read.
In Columbia, South Carolina, the Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services is inviting couples to come in and get tested from February 11 to February 13.
The organization says that couples who are tested or receive counseling services will be entered in a raffle to win a gift basket, reported ABC Columbia.
According to GoHealth Urgent Care, most people pay an average of $50 to $100 if insurance is accepted by their providers.
If insurance is not accepted or they don’t have insurance, patients can pay upwards of $250.
In August, the CDC released a report that said STD infections hit a record high in 2017.
About 2.3 million Americans were diagnosed, which is 200,000 more than the year before.
Chlamydia remained the most commonly reported STD with about half of new cases occurring in women between ages 15 and 24.
Between 2013 and 2017, cases of gonorrhea and syphilis saw dramatic spikes with cases jumping by 67 percent and 70 percent, respectively.
According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, the state with the highest rate of infection is Alaska, followed by Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and New Mexico.