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Health Team

STD rates high in NC

Posted April 7, 2011 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2011 7:26 a.m. EDT

— About 19 million new sexually transmitted disease occur each year in the United States. Almost half of those cases are in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Evelyn Foust, the head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, said STDs can cause hospitalizations. 

“The good news is, if you get informed, knowledge is power. Then, you can reduce your risk and not get infected," she said. 

North Carolina ranked 14th among states for chlamydia rates in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers continue to climb.

African-Americans are disproportionately affected, making up 46 percent of cases reported.

Gonorrhea rates are down to their lowest level ever recorded nationally, but North Carolina ranked seventh, with African-Americans representing 60 percent of cases.

North Carolina ranked eighth in the nation for primary and secondary syphilis, with African-Americans representing 79 percent of cases.

Among the 40 states that report HIV cases, North Carolina ranked seventh.

It's the younger population that's most at risk, so parents need to get involved, Foust said.

“Talking with your children, talking with your teens, talking with the young adults in your family about sexually transmitted diseases is a critical conversation that's a must-have,” she said.

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STDs. It's estimated that less than half of people who should be screened receive the recommended screening services.

STD screenings are done through urine and blood tests. Rapid HIV tests can provide results within 25 minutes.

Knowing if you have HIV or another sexually transmitted disease is important for your health and the health of your partner.

Free and confidential HIV and STD tests are available in many doctors' offices and public health departments. For more information on where you can find these test services, go to the CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources webpage.