- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Tweet

WATERTOWN — In Jefferson County, there are more than 630 sexually transmitted diseases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC data were recently published in the form of an interactive map on RentApplication.com. The map illustrates the prevalence of STDs in counties across the U.S., using a color key that ranges from yellow to bright red for the highest rates.

Jefferson County stands out as one of several counties in the state on the reddish side of the scale, along with Monroe, Erie and Onondaga and a few others downstate.

Stephen A. Jennings, the Jefferson County Public Health Department’s information officer, said this is an issue the county has been aware of for several years.

“We are very concerned about risky sexual activity,” Mr. Jennings said. “It is on the rise.”

He said one reason that Jefferson County has a higher than average STD rate is because the county’s population is relatively young.

“We have, in this county, a higher-than-typical rate of 18- to 26-year-olds,” Mr. Jennings said. “That is the population that is very sexually active.”

Risky sexual behavior is still an issue among older generations, Mr. Jennings said, though it is not as prevalent as with teens and those in their 20s.

Mr. Jennings also pointed to the popularity of various smartphone applications, which allow strangers to connect for “hookups.” He said these apps have contributed to a nationwide increase in STDs.

“There are apps now where people can hook up without knowing each other,” he said. “It really is a danger to people, because you’re putting yourself at risk of disease.”

Finally, he said, a rising drug problem in Jefferson County likely has added to the increasing STD rate.

“Risky sexual activity goes hand in hand with drug usage,” Mr. Jennings said.

The CDC data represent reported cases of three particular STDs: syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

In Jefferson County, where the population was listed by the CDC at 120,262, a total of 759 STDs were reported — 693 cases of chlamydia, 63 cases of gonorrhea and three cases of syphilis.

Mr. Jennings said chlamydia has not always been a reportable STD; clinics were not obliged to report occurrences of the disease to the county Health Department until August 2000.

He said since the disease became reportable — like syphilis and gonorrhea before it — rates have increased, but so have prevention efforts.

“It’s increased testing, which is increasing the numbers,” he said. “It’s also increasing the opportunities to educate for prevention.”

“We’re doing everything that we can to constantly educate,” he said.

To view a copy of the interactive map, visit https://wdt.me/STDs.

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(c)2015 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

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