Gainesville Sun (05.01.2013)
Florida’s Alachua County Health Department is promoting awareness, testing, and prevention in response to the county’s high STD rates. Rebecca Tanner, county health department educator, noted that a community mobilization meeting will take place the evening of May 6 at 6:00 p.m., at the county health department at 224 SE 24th St, Gainesville, Fla. The African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County (4As) will sponsor the meeting, at which Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida director of health disparities, will discuss how other communities are decreasing STDs.
Data reveal that STDs have had a sizeable effect on the black community, particularly in the 15–24 age group. In Alachua County, from 2008–2012, statistics indicate that blacks of all ages comprised 65 percent of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, compared to 21 percent for whites and 3 percent for Hispanics. For early syphilis cases, blacks comprised 68 percent, while whites made up 29 percent and Hispanics 2 percent. Tanner is recommending regular STD testing, at least once a year for those who have protected sex and more frequently for those who have unprotected sex. She also emphasized the importance of parents talking to their children about STDs.
Juliun Kinsey, chairperson of the 4As Education Committee, explained that the meeting will launch a new mobilization initiative to assist at-risk individuals in staying healthy and to prevent new cases from spreading. Kinsey added that CDC and Florida Department of Health data reveal that 50 percent of all new STD cases reported annually in the United States are among individuals between the ages of 15–24. From 2008–2012, Alachua County residents in that age range reported 8,452 cases, which was nearly 75 percent of all new gonorrhea and chlamydia cases.
Alachua County offers free testing at 5:00 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month at the Pride Community Center, 3131 NE 13th St. Suite 62, Gainesville, Fla., and at the University of Florida Mobile Outreach Clinic. The health department may charge a fee based on income. Mobile clinics are located in east Gainesville at the following sites: Alachua County Library Headquarters, 401 E. University Ave., 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., Wednesdays; Bartley Temple United Methodist Church, 1936 NE 8th Ave., 6:00–9:00 p.m., Wednesdays; and the Village Green Apartments, 3101 NE 15th St., 9:00 a.m.–noon, Thursdays. For more information, call Pride (352) 377–8915, the mobile clinic (352) 262–0162, or the health department at (352) 334–7900.