By Natalie Tornese, CPC Outsource Strategies International |
Valentine's Day - From Romance to Responsibility: STD Awareness


Valentine's Day - From Romance to Responsibility: STD Awareness

Date Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2024


Love is in the air, and hearts are excited as we celebrate Valentine's Day. Yet, amidst the whispered promises and tender embraces, we need to remember that pure love is about caring for each other's well-being. Regular testing is essential for anyone who is sexually active to avoid STIs 365 days a year. Getting tested is necessary to give love and maintain your sexual well-being. More than flowers, chocolates, or champagne, knowing the facts about STDs and taking the necessary precautions are the best ways to celebrate love responsibly, passionately, and to its fullest.


STDs Are on the Rise


A sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite that passes from one person to another through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Some STDs are spread by skin-to-skin contact. Certain STDs can transmit from a pregnant individual to their baby, either during pregnancy or childbirth. STDs can also spread through breastfeeding, blood transfusions, or sharing needles.


There are more than 20 types of STDs, the most common types being chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), HPV (human papillomavirus), syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Notably, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are on the rise in the United States. The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that STIs surged by 7% in 2021, accounting for 2.5 million cases.


Importance of Knowing Your STD Status


Before committing to late night plans, both you and your partner should consider STD/STI testing. Let's look into the reasons why STD testing is so important.


STDs Are Often Asymptomatic


You can have an STD without knowing it because there are no symptoms, and then pass the infection to your partner. Studies have found that about 60 percent of patients suffering from any STD have no symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global data for STIs indicate that, worldwide, over 1 million new potentially curable STIs are acquired daily, most of which are asymptomatic. People with HIV who are asymptomatic may have an acute viral syndrome with symptoms like depression, fatigue, anorexia, fever, chills, etc. These symptoms could be mistaken for that of other conditions. Testing is the only way to confirm the presence of these infections.


Untreated STDs Can Lead to Severe Health Issues


Regardless of whether it is viral or bacterial in nature, an STI can have lasting impacts on the body. Left untreated, STDs can affect multiple organ systems and lead to severe health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), increased risk of getting HIV, certain cancers, and even infertility.


It's Possible to Contract an STD Even Without Having Vaginal Intercourse


Just because a person has never had vaginal intercourse doesn't mean they can't have an STI. Herpes simplex virus (HSV), HPV, and syphilis are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Oral herpes may be passed among family members by just casual contact.


Condoms Are Not Always Fully Effective


Condoms aren't completely reliable for preventing STIs but using them properly can lower the risk of transmission. However, HPV can infect areas the condom does not cover. So, condoms may not offer protection against getting HPV, herpes, genital warts, syphilis, and mpox (monkeypox) which can be spread by skin-to-skin contact.


STDs Are Easier to Treat When Caught Early


Untreated, STDs can trigger chronic health problems. For example, gonorrhea and chlamydia may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), impacting the fallopian tubes and increasing risks of infertility or ectopic pregnancy. Early detection makes STDs easier to treat, even though most are not curable. According to analyses by the CDC, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis can be easily treated and cured if diagnosed early. HIV is also much easier to treat when detected early.


No matter when or what you celebrate with your partner, you should know that it's not about delightful, mushy gifts. Knowledge and mutual responsibility are the best gifts. Plan to have open discussions about STIs with your partner. If you think that raising the issues of STIs is an unromantic topic when you are all set to celebrate love, you're wrong.


"Contracting a STI, especially a medically incurable one, is far less romantic than even the most uncomfortable conversation about sexual health," noted sociologist Adina Nack in a Valentine's Day fact sheet on sexual health (www.utexas.edu).


Getting tested for STDs is an important part of routine healthcare if you are sexually active. Experts encourage honest communication with your partner about risks and safer sex. Share past sexual history and health matters, discuss test results, and explore ways to foster healthy behaviors in your sex life. Understanding status is crucial as it allows you to make informed choices regarding safer sexual practices based on that information. And open communication often strengthens relationships.

If you are sexually active, get screened for STDs. You may be able to get free STD screening or affordable confidential testing. Most STDs can be treated quickly and effectively. There are also plenty of coping strategies available to help people diagnosed with STDs find mental and emotional relief.


Physician Alert: Report the Correct STD Screening Codes


STD screening ICD-10 codes are utilized for billing various testing procedures, including blood and urine tests, cervical cancer screenings, and physical examinations. Physicians can use these codes to specify the exact type of testing conducted, which enables insurance companies to accurately determine the coverage for these services. Understanding what these ICD-10 codes represent is essential to ensure regular testing and accurate billing if treatment becomes necessary.


Here are some ICD-10 screening codes for common STDs:

  • Chlamydia: A56.01 – A56.09
  • Gonorrhea: A54.00 – A54.9
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): A60.00 – A60.9; B00.0 – B00.9
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): A63.0
  • Syphilis: A50.00 – A50.9
  • HIV: B20


When billing for STD services, precision in documentation is vital. This requires detailing disease acuity, site, laterality, infectious agent, underlying conditions, common manifestations, and abnormal test results. Documenting this information in the medical record will support severity of illness and medical necessity requirements, supporting proper billing and reimbursement for STD screening, diagnosis, and treatment.


Utilizing physician billing services for reporting STD-related information is a practical strategy to navigate the complex coding specific to different types of STDs, screening procedures, and treatments. Outsourcing billing and coding to an expert can streamline the billing process, support accurate reimbursement, and ensure precise medical records, benefiting both patients and healthcare providers.


Natalie Tornese
CPC: Director of Revenue Cycle Management: Healthcare Division


Natalie joined Managed Outsource Solution's (MOS) Revenue Cycle Management Division and brings over twenty-five years of hands-on management experience to the company. Starting as an EMT in New York City, she has held positions of progressive responsibility throughout her career – serving a diverse range of practices and specialties. Her experience includes all aspects of revenue cycle management, including multiple leadership roles and management of multiple accounts. Additionally, she holds a CPC certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Currently, Natalie serves as the Director of MOS's healthcare division, where she oversees Medical Billing, Medical Coding, Verification, and Authorization services.


Revenue Cycle Management | Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management (outsourcestrategies.com)


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Tornese, CPC

Natalie Tornese, CPC

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