First Coast News (Jacksonville) (04.04.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
According to Katrina Howard, a communicable disease specialist with Coastal Health District, coastal Georgia had a definite problem with very high STD rates. She stated that the high rate of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV were impacting the region and noted an increase in young adults with HIV infection, including some even younger than age 25.
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s 2010 data show that the coastal region is fourth in the state for incidences of STDs. The department recorded 800 reported cases of HIV and 1,221 reported cases of AIDS in 2008 as well as 4,494 reported STD cases in 2010. Howard remarked that somehow individuals do not understand that they are putting themselves at risk by having unprotected sex with a partner of unknown health status.
Howard is part of a team trying to slow rates of infection. She said they are testing people in the clubs, showing up wherever the high risk is to do testing and using some of the newer methods of testing. Howard believes it is up to community members to be responsible to halt the rising numbers of STD cases. She emphasized that the community has to accept that the problem exists, as it is going to take a community effort to change things. She explained that the health district has provided a list of testing locations in coastal Georgia and there are products available for self-testing at home. A list of county health departments where HIV testing is available, including Savannah locations, can be found at http://www.firstcoastnews.com/onyourside/article/307321/9/Officials-work-to-lower-Coastal-Georgia-STD-rate.