Rapid City Journal (12.27.11) - Tuesday, January 03, 2012
South Dakota will set a 25-year gonorrhea record in 2011,
topping 500 cases, state officials are warning. Especially
alarming is that incidence of the STD in western South Dakota
is five times that in eastern counties, said Lon Kightlinger,
Years of enhanced prevention and education efforts resulted in
a gonorrhea case decline from more than 1,400 annually to 226
in 2003, but more recently cases have surged to the highest
number seen since the 1980s. More than 50 percent of recent
cases statewide have occurred among 15- to-24-year-olds.
According to health experts, the gonorrhea spike may be
attributed to numerous factors, including young people
engaging in more risky behaviors, lower levels of funding for
STD prevention and education programs, and lack of access to
care in remote western areas of South Dakota.
The state is responding by boosting gonorrhea screening and
treatment efforts, said Kightlinger. Expedited partner
therapy, in which the sex partners of patients are treated
without having to see a provider first, is part of that
strategy, he said. "Some sex partners are reluctant or refuse
to seek their own medical care, so the gonorrhea patient gets
either an extra prescription or an extra dose of medication to
give their sex partner or partners," said Kightlinger.