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Sexually active teens urged to be tested for STDs

It is estimated that more than 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are diagnosed each year in the United States. Approximately one-fourth of the new infections are occurring among teenagers.

And, according to the Washington State Department of Health, Yakima County along with Franklin County rank highest in the state for reported cases of the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia.

Washington is following the national trend with the highest incidence of STDs peaking among individuals 15-24 years of age, according to Joy Alegria of the Yakima office of Planned Parenthood of Central Washington

She said Planned Parenthood, in order to bring more awareness to the epidemic proportions of the incidence of STDs, is commemorating April as National STD Awareness Month

She said Planned Parenthood offices throughout the Central Washington service area, including the Sunnyside clinic, will be working to get word out to teens about the dangers of STDs.

"We want young people to know the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, " Alegria said.

Realizing that seeking testing and treatment of STDs can be a sensitive situation, Planned Parenthood is making a special effort to address the concerns of teens, said Gwen Chaplin, president and CEO of the non-profit family health agency.

"All of our health centers provide non-judgmental and confidential care to young people when they are accessing health care," Chaplin said.

Studies have shown that a lack of noticeable symptoms of certain STDs is one of the main obstacles for diagnosis and treatment. "For this reason we encourage anyone who is sexually active to be tested for STDs," said Alegria.

The Sunnyside clinic offers counseling, testing and treatment for STDs.

Planned Parenthood has clinics in Yakima, Walla Walla, Kennewick, Yakima, as well as Cle Elum, Pasco and Wapato.

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