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Free STD Testing In Sioux Falls As SD Infection Rates Rise

A recent surge in sexually transmitted diseases in South Dakota is prompting free screenings in Sioux Falls. Planned Parenthood is providing tests for four STDs at no charge this week. The advocacy group and a doctor with the state agree that STDs are a growing public health concern.

The state epidemiologist says South Dakota had record numbers of STDs in 2014. By the end of the year, 4,170 cases of chlamydia were found in South Dakota. That’s the most ever reported in the state in one year.

Dr. Lon Kightlinger says South Dakota saw 891 cases of gonorrhea last year. That’s the most since the 1980s. The syphilis numbers were higher than any other time in the last four decades.

Planned Parenthood is offering STD testing free of charge this week in Sioux Falls. Jen Aulwes says data show half of all people will have an STD by the time they’re 25 years old, which makes sexually transmitted diseases a community concern.

"The really more important thing about STD testing is that it is a public health issue and it’s not a political issue," Aulwes says. "These STDs, they don’t discriminate based on geography or race or income or gender or anything."

Aulwes says the free screenings include a cheek swab for HIV, a urine sample for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and a blood test for syphilis. She says patients can choose any or all of the STD tests for free.

The testing sites vary on different days of the week as listed below:

Tuesday, April 28th
Center for Equality
220 S. Phillips Avenue
3 - 7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 29th
Planned Parenthood
6511 W. 41st Street
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Friday, May 1st
Kilian Community College
300 E. 6th Street
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).