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What you need to know about having an STD in Michigan

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
In Michigan, it's a felony for an HIV-positive person to engage in sexual penetration without disclosing that information.

According the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the state increased from 2016 to 2017.

A statement released Wednesday said there was a 9 percent rise in Chlamydia cases, a 22 percent increase in gonorrhea, and a 28 percent increase in primary and secondary syphilis. MDHHS says these statistics reflect a national trend toward rising reports of STDs.

According to MDHHS, all sexually active individuals should be seek prompt treatment if they test positive for an STD.

“Screening and early diagnoses are essential in preventing transmission and long-term health consequences of STDs,” Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive, said in a statement.

Having an STD in Michigan

Michigan is one of most states in which Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) is legal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines EPT as the practice of healthcare providers treating the sexual partners of chlamydia- or gonorrhea-positive patients by providing prescriptions or medications to patients to give to their partners, without examining them first. The aim of the policy is to prevent reinfection and further transmission of STDs.  

But Michigan is also one of about 30 states with laws specifically concerning HIV-positive residents. In 1989, the state adopted various policies in response to the panic of a national AIDS crisis, and today it’s currently a felony for an HIV-positive individual who is aware they have HIV to engage in sexual penetration without disclosing that status to their partners.

Some experts and activists see laws like this as problematic. In 2016, Trevor Hoppe, a sociologist who specializes in sexuality, HIV, and the law at the University of Michigan told Michigan Radio the disclosure law unfairly targets the HIV-positive population.

According to Hoppe, the policy creates a false notion of protection through the process of criminalization.

“But moreover, they target HIV singularly,” he said. “We don’t have these laws for other communicable diseases, and I think that exposes the fact that really what’s underlying here is that we have a disease that’s especially stigmatized because of the populations it affects.”

Originally from New Jersey, Lara is a senior at the University of Michigan studying English and Spanish. She's an Online News and Investigative Intern at Michigan Radio and a recent alum of The Michigan Daily, where she's served as Managing Editor of The Statement Magazine and Summer Editor in Chief. When she's not at Michigan Radio, she can be found listening to Bruce Springsteen or exploring a national park.
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