Seminole Chronicle (10.18.12)
There are positive developments and continuing challenges to face in Seminole County, Florida, according to the latest figures on STDs in the county. Based on the latest available reports, which comprise January through early October 2012, from the Seminole County Health Department (SCHD), syphilis cases are down in the county. Infectious syphilis has decreased by 23 percent, compared to the same time period in 2011. Sixteen cases have been reported; whereas 21 cases were reported last year. Early latent syphilis also declined by 16 percent, with only 10 reported cases in 2012. “It's a welcome change,” said Marianela Smyth, health service representative for SCHD. “Through our education campaign and efforts, reported cases have gone down.”
Chlamydia cases have also decreased to 1,148 in 2012, a 1.8 percent decrease from the same time period in 2011. These statistics are a positive development with regard to STDs, which pose a critical challenge for the US health care system. Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 million new cases are reported each year, costing the health care system an estimated $17 billion. The focus of concern in Seminole County during the past few months has been gonorrhea, which has seen a large increase in numbers. By the first week of October of 2011, 199 cases had been reported. So far in 2012, the reported cases amount to 265, a 33 percent increase.
Smyth said that young adults aged 15–24 years are the most susceptible to STDs, so reaching this population group in particular has become crucial to preventing the spread of diseases. The department provides sex education and counseling, and has established a specialty teen clinic to address the needs of adolescents. The teen clinic is open each Wednesday between 2 and 6 p.m., and anyone under the age of 18 can receive services at no charge. The county emphasizes the confidential aspect of the testing.