West Central Tribune (09.28.12)
A Kandiyohi County coalition focused on teen sexuality is turning to the public this autumn to help craft a community plan that fosters adolescent health. One main goal is to reduce the local incidence of chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection that has soared to epidemic proportions in Minnesota in recent years. Organizers hope to end up with a strategy that is well-balanced, has a voice and support in the community, and can be carried out over at least the next three years. Chlamydia is now the leading infectious disease reported in Minnesota—nearly 17,000 cases in 2011, a record number. Almost three-fourths of the cases were in teens and young adults aged 15 to 24, and the rates in Kandiyohi County were some of the highest in the state. Although the disease is readily treatable, as many as 75 percent of females and 50 percent of males with chlamydia are undiagnosed because the symptoms often are undetectable. The Kandiyohi County Coalition for Healthy Adolescent Sexuality began collaborating in 2010 with the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership. More recently, the group also began working with the Minnesota Department of Health to not only reduce the incidence of chlamydia but to promote overall healthy behavior among teens and young adults. The Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership recommended using youth development as a chlamydia prevention strategy. The partnership has also called for more widespread chlamydia screening, especially among young women, and a greater emphasis on public health involvement and public policies that promote sexual health among teens and young adults.
The initial meeting is at 6:30 p.m. today at the Lakeland Auditorium on the lower level of the Lakeland Health Center building in Willmar, Minn. Subsequent meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. the following four Mondays, October 8, 15, 22, and 29, in the Rice Auditorium on the lower level of the Lakeland Health Center.