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FOR RELEASE: April 4, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

STD Awareness Month Finds Oklahoma Teens Most At Risk

April is recognized nationally as Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month. According to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), those most at risk for STDs in Oklahoma are teens and young adults.

In Oklahoma, during the last quarter of 1999, 1,980 teens and young adults, ages 13-29, were reported as infected with chlamydia. An additional 836 were reported as infected with gonorrhea.

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate 15 million Americans become newly infected each year, yet STDs remain a highly under-recognized health threat.

Individuals who may not even realize they are infected can pass both chlamydia and gonorrhea, as both males and females often do not have any obvious symptoms. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are totally preventable conditions that can leave females with infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, or ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Males may experience painful swelling, inflammation, or sterility.

"Educating parents, teachers, counselors, and others about STDs will ensure that Oklahoma’s young people receive accurate information about the risks of becoming infected," said J.R. Nida, M.D., commissioner of health. Increasing awareness while encouraging abstinence are both important elements of education.

Nida said that while chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable, that is not true of all STDs. In addition, the person who has a STD is also at increased risk of becoming infected with HIV because of increased susceptibility to the virus.

A set of STD slides and accompanying narrative is available through the OSDH Film Library, (405) 271-9444, ext. 56456 for those providing presentations to adults and youth. The slides and narrative are approved for use in public schools.

The public may also choose to call the National STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922 to obtain answers to questions about chlamydia, gonorrhea, or any other sexually transmitted disease. The hotline is V/TDD/TTY accessible by calling 1-800-243-7889. Also, for additional information, the public may contact the county health department in their area.

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