March 18, 2009
State’s Top Doc Encourages Communities to Fight Alarming Number of STDs
Public health director hosts town meetings to address health issues unique to each community
DECATUR, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), will lead a town hall meeting tonight to address a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that found African-American teenage girls were most severely affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Held at the Main Street Church of the Living God in Decatur, the meeting included a discussion led by a panel of health officials followed by an audience question and answer period.
“I encourage communities throughout Illinois to hold town meetings, like the one tonight, involving local government officials, health professionals and community groups to learn about the problems and health risks associated with STDs, to address health disparities in their communities and to develop a plan to fight these problems,” said Dr. Arnold.
A CDC study released last March estimated that one in four teens in the U.S. between the ages of 14-19 is infected with at least one STD and that African-American teenage girls were most severely affected. Almost half of young sexually active African-American women (48 percent) were estimated to be infected with an STD.
“We are conducting this town hall meeting in Decatur tonight because it is one of the communities in Illinois most affected by STDs. It is important for communities to work together to help prevent and reduce the high rate of infection, especially among women and adolescents,” said Dr. Arnold.
The following is provisional data for 2008*.
The rate of gonorrhea cases in Macon County is 43 percent higher than the statewide rate, and the rate for chlamydia is 27 percent higher.
Chlamydia case rate per 100,000
Gonorrhea case rate per 100,000
In Macon County, the number of reported cases of chlamydia among women (527) is three times greater than among men (178), and the number of gonorrhea cases among women (186) is 1.4 times greater than among men (131).
The number of reported cases of gonorrhea in 2008 among African Americans (221) is 2.5 times greater than the number of cases among Caucasians (88). Also, the number of reported cases of chlamydia among African Americans (423) is 1.6 times greater than the number of cases among Caucasians (265).
Teenage women between the ages of 15-19 in Macon County accounted for 49 percent (257) of all reported cases of chlamydia among women (527) and 35 percent (66) of all reported cases of gonorrhea among women (186) in 2008.
Also in 2008, women age 15-24 accounted for 75 percent (30,731) of all chlamydia cases in Illinois women (41,040) and 55 percent of all reported cases of chlamydia in women were among African Americans (22,628).
IDPH, in collaboration with local health departments, health care providers and community based organizations and institutions, conducts a number of activities to prevent and reduce STDs including:
By acknowledging the presence of health disparities and discussing what services are available to help reduce the spread of STDs in a community, each community should develop a coordinated approach among numerous groups and organizations to address these issues.
Tonight’s meeting demonstrates the Illinois Department of Public Health’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities in Illinois and will help the State identify ways to fight the alarming rate of STDs among minority populations.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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