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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MAINE: New Gonorrhea Ads Target Young Women; Almost Half of Reported Cases in Maine last Year in Androscoggin County
By Kathryn Skelton
August 19, 2013
Sun Journal (Lewiston) (08.18.2013)

Responding to a steady increase in gonorrhea incidence over the last five years, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention launched an education campaign to increase awareness and gonorrhea testing among young women, the group most likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea. The epicenter of the campaign was Androscoggin County, where almost half of Maine’s gonorrhea cases occurred in 2012. Designed by the nonprofit Medical Care Corporation, campaign posters featured messages such as, “Judgey Janet might call you a tramp. We just want you to call,” to encourage young women to get tested for gonorrhea. Campaign posters were hung in hair salons, nightclubs, and colleges in Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties, where young women were most likely to see them. According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears, Maine’s gonorrhea incidence jumped from 96 in 2008 to 456 cases in 2012, prompting the state to publish biweekly surveillance reports. Sears stated that gonorrhea often had no symptoms, but could cause discharge or painful urination. Gonorrhea-which can spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex-could lead to ectopic pregnancies and infertility in both men and women. The campaign recommended testing for anyone who had multiple sexual partners or was unaware of a partner’s sexual history. Sears attributed high incidence in Androscoggin County to population density, proximity to Massachusetts’ urban areas, and drug traffickers coming into Lewiston, Maine. Campaign posters and palm-sized pamphlets directed people to call (207) 795-4019 or access information via a Web site at Sears reported a slight increase in people having gonorrhea tests in 2013 and an encouraging decline in incidence so far in 2013. Sears noted that the campaign aimed to get the attention of the target population, a group that was largely unaware of gonorrhea risks and difficult to reach through public service announcements.