Boston Globe (02.25.13)
Community groups in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva section and Boston health officials are launching a campaign to stop chlamydia, an STD that is disproportionately afflicting neighborhood young adults and teenagers. Chlamydia rates among Bowdoin-Geneva residents ages 15 to 24 are twice that of the rest of Boston. This statistic concerns the city public health commission, which has made the disease one of its top three priorities; low birth weight and obesity are the other two priorities.
Bowdoin-Geneva reported 719 chlamydia cases, a rate of 1,454 per 100,000 residents, according to data provided by the Boston Public Health Commission. For those 15 to 24 years old, the difference in the infection rate is even greater—2,350 per 100,000 for Boston as a whole compared with 6,275 per 100,000 in Bowdoin-Geneva. Women and girls are generally hit hardest by the disease, and statistics for both Bowdoin-Geneva and the city as a whole reflect that, indicating that females report contracting chlamydia at a far higher rate than males. Healthcare advocates and youth are greatly concerned about the numbers. Officials are challenged in curbing the disease’s spread because adolescence and young adulthood are “often a time of exploration, and part of that for many young people is sexual exploration,’’ according to Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Boston Public Health Commission's Infectious Disease Bureau.
Local health officials have tried to curb the disease. Big Sister officials discovered the problem in the Bowdoin-Geneva area while working with the mayor’s office more than a year ago. As they studied health data to determine which issues were most urgent, they became distressed by the number of young people who tested positive for chlamydia. Big Sister attempted unsuccessfully to obtain grant funding for the effort, but the organization mobilized its campaign and will get together with other groups to forge a plan. They have linked with the health commission, the mayor’s office, and the Catholic Charities’ Teen Center on Bowdoin Street to train teenagers to spread the prevention message. Big Sister said it will provide mentors and work with young girls who participate at the neighborhood’s community center.