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For Release: April 19, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

Half of New STDs Occur Among Young People in Oklahoma

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), almost half of the new sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections that occur in Oklahoma each year are among young people 15 to 24 years of age. Oklahoma joins the nation in raising awareness about the ongoing STD epidemic during April, which is National STD Awareness Month.

Statistics from  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate about 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year, which cost the U.S. healthcare system $16.4 billion annually, not including the cost to individuals in terms of acute and long-term care consequences. Those areas of concern include the following:

  • Both rates and consequences of chlamydia and gonorrhea are far more severe among women than men. Undetected and untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can result in pelvic inflammatory disease in women, a condition that can cause infertility.  In 2009, females in Oklahoma made up approximately 74 percent of reported chlamydia and 57 percent of gonorrhea cases.
  • Nationally, in 2009, 62 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases in 44 states and the District of Columbia, who provided information about sex partners, were among men who have sex with men (MSM).   In Oklahoma, males accounted for 60.9 percent of the total reported syphilis cases.
  • In 2009, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis rates were highest among African Americans, which was also true in Oklahoma (www.health.ok.gov).  These disparities may be contributing to the tremendous disparities in HIV infection among African Americans. 

Most STDs have also been associated with increased risk of HIV transmission. While serious health threats from STDs cross racial and ethnic lines, disparities continue to persist. Higher rates of the most commonly reported STDs persist among African-Americans and Hispanics, compared to whites.

Testing is the key to prevention since bacterial STDs can be cured with proper medication and viral STDs can be treated.  The CDC partnered with MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood and other partners to promote the Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign to inform young people about STDs, encourage and normalize testing and connect them to testing centers around the country. 

In Oklahoma, county health departments have STD clinics that test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis and trichimoniasis.  They also offer HIV testing since infection with other STDs increases the risk for acquiring HIV.  Since STD clinic testing services may vary daily at local county health departments, contact your local clinic for more information.  A list of county health departments and free and confidential HIV testing at community-based test sites can be found on the OSDH website at http://www.health.ok.gov/.  

Below is the contact information for Oklahoma and Tulsa counties:

  • Oklahoma City County Health Department – Walk-in clinic at 921 N.E. 23rd Street, Oklahoma City.  Call ahead of time at (405) 425-4430. 
  • Tulsa County Health Department – Walk-in clinic at 4616 E. 15th Street, Tulsa.   Call ahead of time at (918) 595-4104 for hours of time or log on to http://www.tulsa-health.org/testing-immunizations/testing/stds/.

Additional information about STD Awareness Month is available by visiting these websites:

http://www.cdcnpin.org/stdawareness/

http://www.cdc.gov/

or call the OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405) 271-4636.

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