Health experts say COVID-19 has caused decline in access to STD testing

Posted at 5:26 PM, Apr 27, 2020

NEW YORK -- A New York City woman, who didn’t want to be identified, started dating someone new just before COVID-19 concerns shutdown much of the country.

She wanted to get blood testing for sexually transmitted diseases but could not schedule an appointment with her primary care physician.

“It was pretty frustrating,” the woman said. “I don’t know why but I didn’t expect not to get certain kinds of medical care.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia all saw massive increases recently.

Now, other health experts believe this pandemic could lead to even higher STD rates.

“I think it’s a complete and total disruption of the healthcare landscape,” said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.

McQuade says left untreated, small health concerns could turn into problems.

“Let’s talk about something as simple as a urinary tract infection,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it would be life or death, but a couple days in then you got a bladder infection and then you have a kidney infection and then you’re in the emergency room.”

McQuade said though health departments across the country have stated unequivocally that sexual reproductive healthcare is essential and time sensitive, some hospitals are solely focused on COVID-19 care.

That’s why her team is offering healthcare options in person, online and over the phone.

As for the NYC woman, she ended up going to a walk-in urgent care clinic despite concerns of catching the coronavirus.

“Now that I know that hospitals aren’t open and operating normally, I’m thinking in the same way about pharmacies,” she said.

The woman understands the importance of making COVID-19 care a priority but having an IUD, she says testing for STDs is also important.

“What that means is catching STDs is very, very dangerous,” she said. “It can actually make me sterile.”