St. Louis Post-Dispatch (01.08.2014)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that CDC’s “2012 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Report” again ranked St. Louis among the US cities with the highest STD rates. New chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses for the St. Louis region dropped by approximately 700, but the city still had the second highest incidence among counties and independent cities. St. Louis City and St. Louis County reported more than 9,000 new chlamydia diagnoses and approximately 4,000 new gonorrhea diagnoses in 2012. Syphilis incidence increased from 92 diagnoses in 2011 to 95 in 2012.
Although the number of chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses dropped by nearly 10 percent in St. Louis City, the change might not represent a decrease in actual cases. Dr. Bradley Stoner, director of STD prevention training at Washington University and president of the American STD Association, warned that lower 2012 rates could signal reduced access to care. Because early treatment was “easy and inexpensive,” Planned Parenthood of St. Louis President Paula Gianino recommended more aggressive prevention and treatment programs, which could prevent serious complications of infertility and increased HIV risk.
Public health experts attributed the persistently high STD incidence to a sense of invincibility among young people, the Missouri legislature’s decision not to expand Medicaid health coverage, and the dismantling of the state’s family planning program that provided cancer screenings, contraception, and STD testing and treatment for 30,000 low-income women. The lack of comprehensive sex education in public schools also could contribute to high STD rates.
The provision of expedited partner therapy, which began in 2011, could be responsible for fewer chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses in 2012. Dr. Ericka Hayes, an infectious disease specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, urged all sexually active teens to use condoms and to have STD tests regularly, even if they had no symptoms.