Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The number of people with sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota is at an all-time high.
In Minnesota, a study shows the number of reported sexually transmitted diseases surged to a record 19,547, last year. That’s more than a 15 percent jump in two years, with chlamydia being the most common infection.
In a small office in the Boynton Health Services clinic, at the University of Minnesota, Scott Nason spends 10-15 hours a week. The U of M junior is not focused on his studies, rather the extra-curricular activities of his fellow students.
“It’s our job to try to reach out to everyone, but it’s not as easy as it sounds,” said Nason.
Scott is a coordinator of a student run group called SHADE, or Sexual Health and Disease Education, that works to educate about safe sex.
“It’s surprising what people feel comfortable sharing when they are talking to a peer person. They feel like they can open up,” said Nason.
His work seems even more important after the Minnesota Department of Health released a new study on the number of STDs in 2011.
“This is extremely frustrating, because it just keeps going on,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, of Allina Hospitals and Clinics.
According to the study, chlamydia and gonorrhea remain the two most reported STDs. Gonorrhea went up five percent since 2010, chlamydia had a nine percent increase. Both diseases have, for the most part, been on the increase over the last 10 years.
“What’s at risk here is fertility in women, mainly,” said Rhame.
The study also shows younger people have the riskiest behavior. Teenagers ages 15-19, as well as young adults ages 20-24, combined, accounted for 69 percent of chlamydia cases and 65 percent of gonorrhea.
For Rhame, the solution to bringing down the numbers is easy.
“Use the condoms and get yourself tested,” said Rhame.
But the big question that seems to have no answer is: How do you get people to follow that advice?
“No one knows how to do it, obviously, because we’re not there,” said Rhame.
Many people don’t get tested because they show no symptoms. Rhame said the medical community needs to put more emphasis on testing men, even if they visit the doctor for something unrelated.
He also thinks doctors need to be using the partner treatment more often. It’s where a doctor treats one patient but can give also give a dosage to bring home to the patient’s partner.