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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MISSOURI: STDs Increase Again in St. Louis, CDC Says - City's Health Department Expands Outreach by Seeking Out Social Settings to Pass On Its Message
Blythe Bernhard
November 22, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (11.18.11) - Tuesday, November 22,

Surges in new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2010 rank St. Louis, second, third, and twentieth, respectively, for the diseases among US independent cities and counties, notes a CDC annual report released Thursday.

Chlamydia, the most widespread STD, exceeded 4,500 diagnoses in 2010 in St. Louis, up approximately 125 from 2009.

More than two-thirds of new STD diagnoses are among those below age 30. Every city high school, the juvenile detention center, and boys and girls clubs receive STD education from the health department. In addition, department staff and health educators routinely converge on venues frequented by young people.

"The challenge for us as public health and health care providers is to craft those messages to suit the population subcultures that we're dealing with," said Dr. Faisal Khan, the St. Louis County health department's director of communicable disease control. "It's very hard for government agencies to plug themselves into those networks." Yet, dressed to fit in, they do precisely that at happy hours, gay bars, and Latino dance clubs - passing out condoms on bead necklaces, talking about safe sex, and offering free HIV swabs and syphilis blood tests. More than 6,000 STD tests were offered in nontraditional settings in 2010.

A state law passed in 2010 permits doctors to prescribe additional dosages of antibiotics to patients testing positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea to be passed along to their sexual partners.

Working with patients diagnosed with STDs, St. Louis County disease investigators use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to privately alert those potentially exposed and direct them to testing and treatment.

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