If you go
What: Sexually transmitted disease screenings
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 7
Where: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office, 745 Russell St.
Cost: Free; no appointment necessary.
• For more information, call 824-8233.
Craig Same people, same disease.
In men's and women's health clinics offered by the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, about 3 to 5 percent of clients have sought treatment multiple times for sexually transmitted diseases, said Cole White, VNA director of operations.
In some cases, he said, patients returned to the VNA with the same STD.
Still, it's the demographic VNA practitioners don't see that could be the most worrisome.
Once diagnosed, returning clients can spot the symptoms of an STD, even when they are slight, White said.
"What we don't see is the person that doesn't have the symptoms or doesn't know what to recognize," he said. "As a result, they're not getting screened and they're going, in a lot of cases, many years without adequate treatment."
Free screenings scheduled for early next month are designed to address that problem.
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 7, the VNA plans to host screenings for various STDs, including HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The VNA began hosting free screenings this year after statistics showed a sharp increase in the reported cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea between 2006 and 2007, White said.
Those cases more than doubled in those years, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Free screenings were also scheduled so clients could proactively address diseases contracted through sexual contact.
"It's bad enough to get an STD," White said. "It's even worse to do nothing about it."
Recent screening results show that while a percentage of the population are a high risk for contracting STDs, a smaller fraction of that group are diagnosed with them.
Screenings in March tested 35 people for various STDs. About two-thirds exhibited high risk factors for contracting an STD, which includes having sex with multiple partners and using drugs intravenously.
The number of people showing high risk factors is a trend that has continued throughout the screenings the VNA has offered.
Clients who come to the free screenings usually are those who are practicing unsafe sex, White said, which includes having intercourse with multiple partners and not using a condom.
Still, less than 10 percent of clients who attended recent screenings have tested positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea, White said.
None tested positive for HIV.
White also noticed other trends among recent screenings.
More people have attended the free service each time it has been offered, he said, adding that recent screenings were filled to capacity.
"We really saw as many people as we could physically see," White said.
A broader spectrum of clients also has sought testing for STDs.
Early screenings brought in "the typical group we thought we would see," White said, which includes people ranging in age from 18 to 25.
By the third screening, however, the client base had broadened to include teenagers and people older than 35 - groups that White said VNA officials hadn't expected to see.
In the future, similar screenings could be available on a regular basis. VNA officials plan to hold similar walk-in clinics every six to eight weeks, he said.
Clients can make appointments with the VNA for individual screenings at any time. These services are charged based on the client's income.
For more information on free STD screenings offered by the VNA, call 824-8233.