The Wyoming Department of Health has released some troubling information about STD’s in Wyoming as part of STD Awareness Month. According to a press release distributed this week, a number of sexually communicable diseases are on the rise in the Cowboy state, particularly among the younger population. Gonorrhea infections alone in Wyoming increased six fold from 2012 to 2016.

Dr. Joanne Steane, University of Wyoming Student Health Service director, said one of the possible reasons for the dramatic increase in gonorrhea cases is that sometimes individuals infected with the disease will not show symptoms. She said this is why getting screened is imperative.

But many young people do not get screened and Steane said an ‘it can’t to happen to me’ attitude is one of challenges of getting sexually active youth to get tested.

“The challenges often are people thinking ‘it’s not going to happen to me,’ or ‘I’m careful with who I have sex with’ or ‘I’ll do it later,’” she said. “It’s just all about making sure the message gets home that it can happen to anyone.”

Steane said individuals who have had more than one partner is at an increased risk, but even those who have had one partner could still be at risk.

“Even one partner is potentially an issue because that partner may have has sex with other partners, really, you are being exposed to several partners even if you yourself have only had one.”

University of Wyoming students have a special resource in the UW Student Health Service. Steane said the center partners with the Wyoming Department of Health Albany County Public Health to offer two pop-up STD screenings in April and September in the UW Union in the center ballrom, where students can get tested for free. Steane said the next screening is Thursday, April 13 from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and free pizza will be provided.

“Free pizza is always a good incentive,” Steane said.

The clinic is also listed as a place where students can utilize knowwyo.org vouchers in order to obtain free STD tests.

“We hope students feel that the student health service is a safe and confidential place where they can get tested,” Steane said.