STD epidemic not going away


October 1st, 2010

Omaha, NE – Douglas County has had an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, specifically in Chlamydia and Gonorrhea since 2004. And progress has been slow to bring those rates down.

Speaking at a symposium on maternal health held in Omaha late September, the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Dr. Jean Amoura said there are significant reproductive health disparities in the Omaha community. And screening and treatment for STIs, she said, is one of the most important aspects of prenatal care.

“This is something that we clearly have an at-risk group,” she said. “Someone who’s coming in pregnant is almost by definition a person having unprotected intercourse.” “You’re targeting her at a specific point where treating that STI could have a tremendous ripple effect, so it’s not just her health but also the health of the infant.”

Valda Boyd-Ford is the Community Response Coordinator for the Douglas County STD Initiative. She facilitated an afternoon breakout session at the conference, and said there’s been very little progress in reducing the STI epidemic rates in Douglas County.

“In the last, wow, six years running,” she said, “we haven’t really changed what we are doing in essence.” “We have established the Douglas County-STD Initiative, which is mainly an unfunded mandate,” she said, “So what we are doing is attaching ourselves to other programs that are taking place in order for us to do the work that we are doing.”

Educating young people about the STI epidemic should be implemented in the public school system, Ford said. Parents and youth are typically very receptive to this type of reproductive health information, she said, and it’s vital they learn about this problem because it’s not going away anytime soon.

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