WOWT Channel 6 (Omaha) (01.03.13)
Omaha, Nebraska, is taking steps to curb its STD epidemic by reaching out to youth at community centers, libraries, and churches. Each month, the Douglas County Health Department spends two hours offering STD screenings at the Saddlebrook Community Center in northwest Omaha as well as at eight different libraries. “We have to be able to reach our youth right where they are at. Instead of thinking they are coming to us—that is not going to happen. We need to go to them,” said Sherri Nared, HIV prevention specialist with the health department. Nared explains that teens do not think they are at risk, but if they are informed of the consequences and pay attention, she expects that the rates will go down in the future. Part of the concern is many STDs do not have symptoms. As time progresses, Nared hopes that barbers and hair stylists will bring health prevention messages to their clients. She adds, “A lot of times, stylists are their therapists.”
The Omaha region has experienced an STD epidemic for nearly a decade. In 2011, for example, CDC reported 603 chlamydia cases per 100,000 people for Douglas County—higher than Los Angeles County’s 515 cases per 100,000, but lower than the Chicago area’s 709 cases per 100,000. CDC 2011 gonorrhea statistics for Douglas County were 171 cases per 100,000 people—higher than Los Angeles County’s 103 cases per 100,000, but lower than the Chicago area’s 209 cases per 100,000.
Visit http://www.douglascountyhealth.com/disease-a-immunization/sexually-transmitted-diseases for information on Omaha area STD services.