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What It Is

The primary goal of the Kentucky Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention and Control Program is to prevent the spread and complications of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

What are STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are serious, sometimes painful illnesses that can damage the body. Initially, STDs infect your sexual and reproductive organs and later can destroy other organs. Other STDs, such as syphilis, can cause general body infections.

Sometimes you can have an STD with no signs or symptoms. Other times, the symptoms go away on their own. Either way, you will have the STD until you are successfully treated. A few STDs cannot be cured, but most STDs can be cured if you get treated.

How are STDs spread?

STDs are spread during close, sexual activity and during vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Most STD germs need warm, moist environments to live. That's why they infect the mouth, rectum and sex organs (vaginal vulva, penis and scrotum).

What to do if you think you have an STD

If you think you might have an STD, get checked out. Don't just hope the STD will go away. Chances are it won't. All county health departments test for and treat STDs. Private doctors also treat STDs. If you don't know where to get help, call your local health department or private healthcare provider for information. All information you give will be private and confidential.

You may feel embarrassed about having an STD, but you must get treatment. That's the only way you will get well. So, no matter how difficult it may be, see a health care professional for treatment.

Most STDs can be treated with antibiotics. Follow your doctor's instructions and be sure to take all of your medicine. You also must tell your sexual partner(s). If they aren't treated, they can spread the STD and they might even reinfect you.

Signs and symptoms to watch for


  • Unusual vaginal discharge or odor
  • Pain in your pelvic area - the area between your belly button and sex organs
  • Vaginal area burning or itching
  • Bleeding from your vagina that is not your regular period
  • Pain deep inside your vagina when you have sex


A drip or discharge from your penis.

Women and Men

  • Sores, bumps or blisters near your sex organs, rectum or mouth
  • Burning and pain when you urinate (pee) or have a bowel movement
  • Need to urinate often
  • Itching around your sex organs
  • Swelling or redness in your throat
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and aches
  • Swelling in your groin - the area around your sex organs

If you have any of these symptoms, go to an STD clinic or your healthcare provider. Don't put it off. Get checked out right away.

Where to get help

Local health departments offer patients tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis and provide treatment for patients diagnosed with, exposed to or suspected of having these diseases. Services received at local health departments are confidential. A service fee may be charged, but no one will be refused testing or treatment because they are unable to pay. Patients with other sexually transmitted infections will receive counseling about the infection and will be referred to a healthcare provider who can test for and treat these diseases.

All local health departments in Kentucky offer free HIV counseling and testing. Patients can choose to be tested confidentially or anonymously. It is usually necessary to call the local health department for an appointment to be tested for HIV and to receive STD services.

Healthcare providers and the general public are encouraged to call the Kentucky STD Prevention and Control Program at (502) 564-4804 for information and statistical data.

What To Do To Protect Yourself From STDs

  • Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from STDs.
  • Having sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe.
  • Talking to your partner about past sex partners and about injecting drug use.  Don't have sex with someone who you think may have an STD.
  • Before you have sex, look closely at your partner for any signs of STDs - rash, sore(s), redness or discharge.  If you see anything you are worried about, don't have sex.
  • Use a latex condom (rubber) for vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex.  Condoms will help protect you from STD most of the time.  Both men and women should carry condoms.
  • In addition to condoms, use birth control foam, cream or jelly.  These kill many STD germs.
  • Get checked for STDs every time you have a health exam.  If you have more than one sex partner, get an STD check any time you think you might be at risk, even if you don't have symptoms.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of STDs.  If you notice a symptom that worries you, get checked out.
  • If you have an STD, your partner(s) must get treated when you do.
  • If you have an STD, don't have sex until your treatment is complete.

Learn more about STDs:

STD Treatment Guidelines Recommended by CDC


How to Report 

Report by telephone or mail EPID 200 form to the KY Department for Public Health or the Local Health Department where the patient resides.