The Ottawa County Department of Public Health’s sexual health clinic will be open 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays for walk-in testing at the Holland-area location, 12251 James St.
Since April is STD Awareness Month, the local health department is offering walk-in testing as a way to increase access to services, said Heather Alberda, AASECT-certified sexuality educator for the county agency. Otherwise, all services are offered by appointment only. Testing is either free or low-cost, Alberda said.
“We place clients on a slight fee scale and do no turn anyone away for their inability to pay,” she said.
According to the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention, chlamydia is the most common STD reported. About 1.6 million cases nationwide were reported in 2016.
Chlamydia is also the most common STD reported in Ottawa County. There were 849 cases reported in the county in 2016 and 977 last year. Cases are seen more in people younger than 25, Alberda said.
“STDs don’t always have any symptoms,” Alberda said. “It’s possible to have an infection and not know it. If you are having sex, it is important to get tested.”
The CDC recommends that sexually active people younger than 25, or older who have new or multiple partners, undergo annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Alberda said they encourage people to get tested, know their partner, have conversations about sexual boundaries and use condoms if they are sexually active.
The health department also participates in the Wear One campaign, which is aimed at increasing availability and access to condoms.
Appointments can be made by calling 616-846-8360 for the Grand Haven location, 616-396-5266 for the Holland location and 616-669-0040 for the Hudsonville office.
Allegan and Ottawa county residents ages 18-24 are also asked by the health departments to take a survey about their behaviors and attitudes about sexual health. The survey is aimed at helping improve programs and messages to that demographic, according to a press release. The survey asks questions about birth control and condom use, and perceptions about sexual health topics.
The survey is confidential, and participants can be entered into a drawing to win one of five $100 Amazon gift cards. Survey responses aren’t linked to contact information.
The survey can be found online at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/OC_AC_Sexual_Health.