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Michigan community fights back against STD rates

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Towns that have high sexually transmitted disease rates need to come up with comprehensive ways to encourage their residents to use STD testing services and practice safer sex. Thankfully, many cities are taking action against dramatic STD numbers and are working to keep people healthy. For example, MLive, a Michigan news source, recently reported that the Genesee County Healthy Sexuality Coalition is working on methods to reduce STD rates in the county, which were particularly high in 2012.

The news source explained that during 2012, Genesee County had the second highest rate of gonorrhea and the fourth highest rate of chlamydia in Michigan. Luckily, the county isn't just planning on ignoring these statistics.

"A lot of times people put out the numbers and say, 'This is so disparaging, this is where we stand,'" Heather Kale, director of communications and outreach at Priority Children in Flint, told MLive. "But it's important to say 'OK, now what do we do to address that?'"

Plan of action
The GCHSC recently held an open house to talk to residents about STD testing services and sexual education opportunities available in the county. Stevi Atkins, CEO of Wellness AIDS Services, told the news source that the agency's primary focus is on testing. He explained that since STD numbers in the area don't seem the be going down, the main goal of his agency is to encourage more people to get tested to obtain prompt treatment and avoid spreading infections.

The news source also spoke to one young woman named Tiffany Jones, who said that she attended the sexual health event held by the GCHSC and she found it very informative - particularly for women. She even said that she went home and explained to her younger siblings the importance of waiting till they are older to engage in sexual activity.

"I tell them 'you're not missing out on anything' and to stay abstinent until you find that special person in your life." Jones told MLive.

Communities can help
Studies have shown that community leaders can play an important role in reducing STD risks. For example, research conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles demonstrated that community efforts may effectively help increase STD testing rates and lower the number of HIV rates. Community leaders need to understand that they have the ability to help educate the residents about the dangers of STDs and the importance of practicing safer sex, and that they can make a difference.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services states that it's important to coordinate STD prevention efforts with the healthcare delivery system so that any new developments in healthcare can be implemented in a community as soon as possible. Furthermore, there needs to be greater communication in communities about disparities in STD rates, barriers to the HPV vaccine and the myths that often surround sexual health.

The HHS adds that even though they are largely preventable, STDs remain a major public health problem throughout the U.S. People can reduce the risk of contracting an STD by engaging in safer sex by using a condom during all sexual activity, or abstaining from sex. It's also important for people who discover that they have an STD to be open with their sexual partners about it and encourage them to get tested as well so they can begin treatment immediately if they have contracted an infection. In some states, it is even possible for people to bring home STD medication for their partner once their doctor has discovered that they have an infection.

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