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Communications and Public Affairs: 207-7234
Published on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Metro Health Continues Making Strides in Battle against Syphilis But HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Are on the Rise

Contact: Carol Schliesinger, Public Relations Manager/207-8172

SAN ANTONIO (April 19, 2017) – Today Metro Health reported the latest data regarding sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) in the community. Overall, STD rates increased across the nation in 2015.

The same increasing trend is seen in Bexar County, with an increase in the HIV rate of eight percent from 2014 to 2015. Chlamydia increased by 15 percent and Gonorrhea increased by 22 percent for the same period. Overall, the STD rate for San Antonio is higher than the state average. It is unknown whether these increases are due to a rise in cases or an increase in testing, which in turn increases positivity rates.

“Metro Health has created a robust response to STDs throughout the past few years, but these increases show our work is needed more than ever,” said Metro Health’s Director, Dr. Colleen Bridger. “Our mobile clinic is making visits throughout San Antonio, helping to increase access to care and making people aware of their STD status.”

Primary and secondary syphilis are the exception, with rates declining by three percent in 2015.

Throughout the past five years, Metro Health put into place a number of interventions to address syphilis infections, including testing and case managing pregnant women who came to the STD clinic. Metro Health’s mobile clinic has also been making the rounds throughout areas of town with high incidence of disease for over a year, enabling on-site access to health care.

Statewide, screening pregnant women for syphilis during their third trimester became mandatory when a law took effect in October 2015. Prior to this, testing was only required in the first trimester and at delivery. In 2015, the number of congenital cases remained the same at 10 in 2015.  These babies were born to mothers that had limited or no prenatal care.

Individuals between the ages of 19 to 44 are most affected by STDs, although anyone at any age can contract an STD. Some of factors affecting STD rates include the continued prevalence of risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected anonymous sex, multiple sex partners, and the use of internet and mobile apps to find anonymous sex partners. Also, a large number of women do not receive early or adequate prenatal care and therefore do not receive syphilis testing prior to given birth, increasing the chances of passing syphilis to the unborn child. Additional contributing factors include: individuals not seeking testing or treatment due to lack of health insurance or a medical home; lack of awareness of community resources available for testing and treatment; and/or providers not giving appropriate treatment.                                             

For more information about the STD services at Metro Health visit www.sanantonio.gov/health or call 210-207-8830.

Categories: City News, Health

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