St. Louis Post-Dispatch (11.18.11) - Tuesday, November 22,
Surges in new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in
2010 rank St. Louis, second, third, and twentieth,
respectively, for the diseases among US independent cities and
counties, notes a CDC annual report released Thursday.
Chlamydia, the most widespread STD, exceeded 4,500 diagnoses
in 2010 in St. Louis, up approximately 125 from 2009.
More than two-thirds of new STD diagnoses are among those
below age 30. Every city high school, the juvenile detention
center, and boys and girls clubs receive STD education from
the health department. In addition, department staff and
health educators routinely converge on venues frequented by
"The challenge for us as public health and health care
providers is to craft those messages to suit the population
subcultures that we're dealing with," said Dr. Faisal Khan,
the St. Louis County health department's director of
communicable disease control. "It's very hard for government
agencies to plug themselves into those networks."
Yet, dressed to fit in, they do precisely that at happy hours,
gay bars, and Latino dance clubs - passing out condoms on bead
necklaces, talking about safe sex, and offering free HIV swabs
and syphilis blood tests. More than 6,000 STD tests were
offered in nontraditional settings in 2010.
A state law passed in 2010 permits doctors to prescribe
additional dosages of antibiotics to patients testing positive
for chlamydia or gonorrhea to be passed along to their sexual
Working with patients diagnosed with STDs, St. Louis County
disease investigators use social media outlets like Facebook
and Twitter to privately alert those potentially exposed and
direct them to testing and treatment.