GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County ranks third highest in the state when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases.
As part of National STD Awareness Month, the Kent County Health Department is (KCHD) working to bring awareness to this growing issue.
This week, the health department is offering free, walk-in STD testing in hopes more people come in and get tested.
Kent County has hovered around the top five worse counties in Michigan for sexually transmitted disease for a few years, according to April Hight, the Public Health Program supervisor for Personal Health Services at KCHD.
A majority of those affected are 15 to 24 years old, she explained.
“It’s definitely an issue and it’s something we need to talk about,” Hight said.
The current statistics are from 2015; however, Hight told 24 Hour News 8 she expects the 2016 numbers to be worse.
Hight explained that the community can help change the problematic trend by getting tested because then more people are treated — helping stop the spread of STDs in West Michigan.
“If you’ve slept with one person and that person has slept with two people, then that increases your risk right there,” Hight said. “Getting tested on a regular basis helps you to know you’re OK.”
Hight explained that their testing is non-invasive. It includes a urine test or finger poke.
There are a number of county health departments in West Michigan that offer free STD testing all year, including the Kent County Health Department. Some counties require appointments for testing.