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Should you get tested for STDs? North Dakota health department may have the answer

The North Dakota Department of Health has launched the Know Your Risk website, a tool that can help people decide whether they should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Special to The Forum

BISMARCK — North Dakota has launched a tool to help residents decide whether they should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

The state Department of Health announced Monday, April 29, that people can access the Know Your Risk website at www.ndhealth.gov/hiv/knowyourrisk. The site offers a survey to help users assess their need for STD testing, according to a news release.

“The first step in STD prevention is understanding your risk and being tested when it’s recommended,” said Shari Renton, surveillance coordinator for the HIV.STD.Viral Hepatitis Program. “Individuals should use the recommendations as a conversation starter with their health care provider to discuss risk and potential STD screening.”

The website asks up to 10 questions to assess whether a person should be tested. It also identifies risky behaviors and how they can be addressed to reduce the risk of acquiring an STD.

The website is anonymous and doesn't collect identifying information, officials said.

The survey doesn't ask if a person is married, single or dating. Marriage doesn't necessarily equate to no risk of acquiring an STD, Renton said.

"Being married doesn't limit your risk of getting STDs," she said. "You might believe you are in a monogamous relationship, but your partner might not be."

A person who has not been tested before they are married could present issues, she noted.

The survey also asks what social media and apps people use to find sexual partners, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tinder and Bumble.

Several types of STDs have been on the rise in North Dakota in recent years. The state tallied 3,528 cases of chlamydia last year, up 8 percent from 2017 and the highest number so far this decade, according to the Health Department. Gonorrhea cases rose 42 percent to 1,371 reports, about five times the amount reported in 2011, the department said.

The number of people living with HIV and AIDS has stayed relatively steady in the 2010s. Though the number of new diagnoses has increased from 11 in 2011 to almost 39 in 2018, with a peak of 50 new diagnoses reported in 2016, according to the department.

For more information, call Renton at 701-328-1059, or visit www.cdc.gov/STD to learn more about testing and treatments.