Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

STD Facts and FAQs

Symptoms & Prevention

If you are sexually active, or thinking of becoming sexually active, it is important that you Talk. Test. Treat. to protect your health. These three small actions can have a big impact on your sexual health! Find more information on the CDC's website.

Fact Sheets:


Why are we seeing a rise in STDs? What are the most common STDs in South Dakota?
There are many factors that contribute to increased STDs including, but not limited to, social and economic disparities and other factors such as the asymptomatic nature of some STDs. In addition, statistics show a decrease in preventative care examinations in 2020.

In South Dakota, we collect information on syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis, and chlamydia. Data is showing increases across all STDs with the highest surges in Minnehaha, Pennington, Todd, and Oglala Lakota counties.

Why is it important to practice safe sex?
Despite STDs being preventable, they remain a significant public health problem. Nationally, STDs have been increasing. Syphilis, which reached historic lows in 2000, has increased at an unprecedented rate across the nation. In South Dakota, we are also seeing increases in babies born with syphilis or stillborn babies born to mothers with syphilis.

Overall, increased rates of all STD infections support the need to promote safe-sex practices such as abstinence, using condoms, getting the HPV vaccine, having fewer partners, communicating with partners, and getting tested.

Find South Dakota statistics on our infectious disease dashboard.

What are the signs and symptoms of an STD?
The signs and symptoms depend on the infection; for example, a person may find a painless sore, a rash, discharge, pain, and swelling; or it is possible to not exhibit any symptoms at all. If a person is practicing unsafe sex, it is best to talk with your healthcare provider about testing. A healthcare provider can do a simple urine or blood test to determine if a person has an STD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides information about the signs and symptoms of each infection on its website.

How often should a person be tested for STDs?
How often you should be tested will vary depending on a person’s behavioral and biological risks and should be discussed with one’s healthcare provider. The Department of Health (DOH) also provides free testing at local DOH clinics, as well as assists community organizations with testing events throughout the state.

Why is it important to be educated about STDs?
The CDC estimates that there are approximately 20 million new STD infections each year. The risk of acquiring an STD is dependent on many factors and STDs can cause long-term health complications if left untreated. Find education materials on the CDC's website.

What are the long-term effects of STDs if left untreated?
It is possible for an individual to not know they are infected with an STD. Many of the signs and symptoms can be mistaken for something else, or go unnoticed, leaving the infection to persist. If left untreated, examples of long-term complications include infertility, chronic pelvic pain, increased risk of other STDs, increased risk of HIV, and in some cases, cancer. With untreated syphilis, one can experience neurological and systemic complications many years after the initial infection, and mothers can pass the infection on to their babies which can cause premature births, birth defects, and infant death.


Inclusion of links to other web sites is provided for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of specific organizations or materials. The Department of Health is not responsible for the content and accuracy of information or links on other web sites. This information is not a substitute for medical care. The department is not able to answer personal medical questions. Please see your health care provider concerning appropriate care, treatment, or other medical advice.

Share via: